Warsi, Pakistani men think white girls are fair game for abusive sex

Baroness Warsi: Some Pakistani men think young white girls are “fair game” for sex abuse

Strong words: Baroness Warsi said her father urged her to speak out

Joe Murphy
18 May 2012

Some Pakistani men believe “white girls are fair game” for sexual abuse, the Cabinet Minister and Tory co-chairman Baroness Warsi says today.

In an exclusive interview Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s most senior Muslim politician, calls on mosques and community leaders to condemn “a small minority” of their members with racist and sexist views.

“There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game,” she told the Evening Standard. “And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.”

Her comments follow the horrific Rochdale sexual grooming case, in which a gang of Pakistani men preyed on young white girls. Lady Warsi is the most senior political leader to say publicly that racist and misogynistic attitudes in sections of the community were partly responsible for what happened.

“This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against,” she said. Baroness Warsi, a 41-year-old former lawyer who in 2010 became the first Muslim woman to sit in Cabinet, decided to break her silence on the controversy to encourage other leaders of the community to speak up and change attitudes.

“In mosque after mosque after mosque, this should be raised as an issue so that anybody who is remotely involved should start to feel that the community is turning on them,” she said. “Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong, this will not be tolerated’.”

Some critics insist the vulnerability of the girls themselves was more critical than race in the Rochdale case. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs committee, said it was important not to “stigmatise a whole community”, adding: “I do not believe it is a race issue.”

However, Lady Warsi, who grew up in a Pakistani community in Yorkshire, said both race and misogyny played a part. She said: “These were grown men, some of them religious teachers, or running businesses, with young families of their own. They knew this was wrong. Whether or not these girls were easy prey, they knew it was wrong.”

Lady Warsi said she decided to speak out after her Pakistan-born father urged her: “Sayeeda, uniquely, you are in a position to show leadership on this issue.”


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