Yasmin Alibhai Brown: Jack Straw is right to ask hard questions about Asian men

Fear of racism should no longer be the veil covering up hard truths

Related Topics

The unrepentant British Pakistani gang leaders who violated young girls in Derby have been rightly reviled and given indefinite sentences. Their victims were almost all white. There it might have ended but for Jack Straw, who rekindled passions on all sides when he said that such Pakistani men thought these females were easy meat who deserved no respect or consideration ( I paraphrase). No solid evidence is provided by Straw to back these assertions. In fact, when he was Home Secretary he could have funded research on the matter, but failed to.

Still, even a man used to controversies must be nonplussed by the reaction to his comments. His words were thrown on to blazing pyres by fulminating leftie liberals, feminists, Muslims, Pakistanis, anti-racists and influential individuals who think of themselves as gravely responsible. It was unacceptable, they said, to racialise or ethnicise a particular crime; some even declared that any discussion of cultural factors was dangerous and racist.

Being avowedly a leftie liberal, anti-racist, feminist, Muslim, part-Pakistani, and yes, a very responsible person, I should be in the circle with these objectors – particularly as I can't stand the Rt Hon MP for Blackburn, his devious, shady politicking and moral expediency. However, just as when he criticised the full veil, I cannot condemn his views. How can I? Just before Christmas, I too wrote about these rapists and the anti-white cultural prejudices in some of their communities and families. It was a hard column to write, as is this one. Easier to pick your way barefoot through a dark park littered with broken glass. You need to think about every line, its effect, and know that you will step on the shard that will cut you, however carefully you tread.

I accept that on the basis of the evidence presented in court, this Derby gang was no different from that of the white grooming posse convicted in Cornwall in November. They too preyed on helpless, easily-pleased young white girls who were then used and destroyed. Most paedophiles in this country are white, and their victims too. Just because they harm their own doesn't make it less abominable or more acceptable. What does it matter to a young, white, rape victim whether her violator has pasty or dark skin? And it is gratifying that reputable figures like Barnado's Martin Narey and the judge in the Derby case have spoken out against wholesale racial scapegoating. We know extremists use race and crime statistics to stoke racial hatred against Britons of colour and from religious minorities. I have sometimes been a pin-up girl for the repellent BNP and English Defence League, whenever I criticise Muslims, or Asian values or black Britons who do wrong. You feel degraded and treacherous when this happens.

But I still say we need to expose and discuss more openly the underpinning values of the Asian criminal rings in many of our cities. If we don't, the evil will grow. Fear of racism should no longer be the veil covering up hard truths. What the Derby gang did has planted and raised more racism – possibly even among good, benign people – than my words ever could. I am sure recruitment to extremist parties has gone up too. Prominent anti-racists know that, but will not openly say so.

The criminals feel they did no wrong. These girls to them are trash, asking to be wasted – unlike their own women, who must be kept from the disorderly world out there. The whore and the virgin are both feared and severely controlled and abused. A 2005 study in the Netherlands of Muslim males found the same bifurcation, and identified deep sexism as responsible for both.

The conversations can be heard every day around dining tables and on streets; they are embedded in thought and language. I once interviewed the mother of a man who had been convicted of repeatedly raping his young wife, who came from a rural village in Pakistan. The head of the nursery school the couple's child attended had helped the victim report what was happening. In Urdu, the mother hissed: "How lucky was she to get my son? The dirty, ungrateful bitch – went to a white woman to complain. They sleep with everybody. She just didn't know how to make him happy. We have thrown her out. She can go on the streets like those whites now."

I have been writing about these culturally- sanctioned injustices for two decades, and have interviewed countless people. I will not melt the misdemeanours into generalities, and do not accept that ethnicity and sexual abuse cannot and should not ever be linked.

Some years back, a similar furore was raised over the Sierra Leonean journalist Sorious Samura, who made a TV documentary on the gang rape of young girls in British cities. Censured by the usual slate of apologists, he accepted that the attacks were carried out by men of all backgrounds, but pointed out that a high proportion were black or mixed-race. "As a black man as well as a journalist, I wanted to know what lay behind such attacks, the profoundly disturbing attitudes to females."

That is what I am seeking to do too, as a Muslim journalist who cares deeply about migrants and their progress. Let's ask questions we never ask, to find out more than we ever try to. Do these men have any idea of normal, pleasurable, healthy sex between a man and a woman? Are they maddened by their own frustration and fear of females? I am not impugning those Asian or Pakistani men who love women, but those who are too messed up to understand what that means; maybe those whose key choices, including their lifelong partners, have all been made by families operating as firms. And again, is this the most appalling pay-back for white racism? Black writers in the US, including Eldridge Cleaver, have written movingly about some of the unconscious, vengeful urges that impel black men to take up with white partners to assert power, sometimes to annihilate the person who trusts them.

Shouting down Jack Straw, busying ourselves with warnings about feeding the BNP, are displacement activities that will do nothing to stop Asian groomers, who, from childhood have developed distorted ideas about themselves, society, females, vice and virtue. Like Samura said, it is up to insiders to examine and reveal what lies beneath these crimes. We owe that to ourselves, to our future generations, and to the country we have made ours.


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary