Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Asian men, white women and a taboo that must be broken

Disgusting cultural beliefs validate their acts and their uncontrollable lechery is, in part a symptom of repressed sexuality and sick attitudes

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I've been goaded into writing this column by the barbs and taunts, by the blame and racist toxins filling my inbox this week. At least they can no longer accuse me of "HIDING THE TRUTH!!!" Yes guys, you won. Have another large lager.

Most commentators intermittently get caught up in sudden and fierce squalls, usually when they've said something that upsets large sections of the public. In the age of the internet, these blowbacks have got nastier and more frequent. Sometimes you have to respond just to get your life back. It wasn't what I wrote or said this time, but what I am – or what they think I stand for, the outraged out there whose blood pressure rose perilously high last week.

Horrific sexual crimes against young girls were committed by a paedophile gang in Derby, a place I hardly know. Several gang members were convicted and sent down. These urban predators stalked and "chose" their victims, took them for ice creams and nice meals (treats some of the lasses had never had), drove them around in flash cars, handed out drink and cigarettes, drugged their trusting prey, then raped them over and over again, threatening them with hammers, and worse, if they told.

Such rings have been exposed before, and many others carry on without detection. It is the nightmare of every parent, and for the children who are brutalised it is the end of their innocence and a total desecration of their human rights. Men who destroy children for their own gratification roam streets in every land.

The Derby gang was all Asian except for one seasoned white abuser. Most of the Asians were Muslim Pakistanis and – apart from a few Asian and mixed-race girls who fell into their nets – their victims were almost all white. Because I am Asian and "a fucking Muslim" and the rapists were my people committing a "Paki" crime against white females, I am guilty too, apparently, part of the evil posse.

The English Defence League and British National Party have draped bunting and bright lights around the story, the nation's virtue penetrated and torn by rapacious migrants and their sons. Two days after the Derby case, another such network was exposed – of white men in Cornwall who plucked white girls to groom, violate and control. Was theirs a lesser crime? No. It's naked racism to believe that sex assaults on white women by black or Asian men are more depraved and animalistic than those carried out by white men, who presumably remember to say "please" and "thank you" before and after.

But when I ask myself was a greater crime committed by the Asian molesters, the honest answer has to be yes. Conscientious Asian community activists in Derby have said that these criminal acts were nothing to do with race or religion. The perpetrators were bad men who did terrible things. That is surely self-delusion or a cover-up.

The official inquiry into the case concluded that the care agencies were ill-equipped to deal with the scale of the abuse being perpetrated by the gang. But it also concluded that there needs to be an honest national conversation about how exploitation in some places intersects with "culture, ethnicity and identity".

Let's begin then. Because without such an open conversation, prejudices fester and millions of Britons come to believe that serious offenders from certain ethnic and religious groups have protected status within our country.

The Cornwall and Derby villains who used girls as sex toys believed that their victims had "asked for it", which in our permissive age is an easy excuse. Very young girls are sexualised in the social environment, so paedophiles must feel they are only helping themselves to the goodies that are on offer. But in the case of the Asian men, disgusting cultural beliefs further validate their acts and their uncontrollable lechery is, in part, a symptom of repressed sexuality and sick attitudes.

Most Asian men do not go around raping young white girls and women; many have happy and equal relationships with white partners. However, an alarming number of Asian individuals, families and communities do believe that white females have no morals, are free and available, deserving of no respect or protection.

Up in Bradford a few years back, I met Muslim pimps, some wearing mini Koran pendants on heavy, gold chains. "Not our girls," they reassured me, "just them white girls from the estates, cheap girls. They love it man, all the money they make! What else will they do with their lives? We're helping them make a career."

Much laughter, until I asked them what they would do if a white pimp groomed their daughters. They would kill the pimp and the girls too, they said. They would too.

Then there was an 18-year-old white boy from Manchester who said he was lured and raped at the age of 10 by an Asian scoutmaster and his Muslim mates, who would, in public, hysterically denounce homosexuality. The double standards enable the Asian rapists to feel good, and that makes it doubly bad. Convenient myths of uprightness help hide the rape within their families too – which is why barely anyone ever reports it. The final insult is the veil of religious hypocrisy, already evident in the pimps above. Muslims and Sikhs make much public noise about the importance of religion and its intrinsic goodness. Islam and Sikhism do give women some important rights, but these are devalued in real life on a daily basis.

When deeds destroy professed religious principles, when nefarious abusers claim to be true worshippers, people rightly feel more animus and deeper repugnance. That is why paedophile Catholic priests arouse such fury. What abominable secrets and lies nestle beneath the sheets of godly and "ethnic" self-righteousness!

The injuries suffered by child victims are not determined by race or religion, but their sense of injustice is understandably much greater when their fiendish attackers believe themselves to be morally superior and therefore entitled to corrupt young flesh.

Listen to Miranda, now in her twenties, who was repeatedly raped by a British Asian pimp in Rotherham. She was also abused by her own dad when she was 11 : "Ahmed told me I was making him do it because I was sinful, not a true believer. That he would never do it if I was a Muslim. My dad would cry afterwards. I hate them both, but Ahmed was worse".

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

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