Where Unity Is Strength

FAO: The Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

As UK faith representatives, we support the ongoing efforts of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who, in the face of some considerable hostility, has courageously spoken out about the over representation of British Pakistani men in sex grooming gangs operating around the UK. The evidence contained within a number of independent inquiries – Rotherham, Telford, and Rochdale support her position on what is indeed a sensitive and difficult matter.

We as faith communities want the government to acknowledge one of the motivations behind these gangs. We believe evidence points to an inconvenient truth. That is: non-Muslim girls (this includes Sikh, Hindu, and White Christian girls) have been systematically targeted in Britain due to a form of religiously and racially motivated hatred. We believe the ‘othering’ of these victims should be considered as an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentence uplift when perpetrators are brought to justice.  

We support Baroness Warsi’s previous position when she said, “a small minority” of Pakistani men see white girls as “fair game” and ask the government to help the Pakistani Muslim community tackle this stain on an otherwise majority law-abiding community.

A Rotherham survivor has confirmed she was targeted for being a ‘white slag’ and because she was ‘non-Muslim’. Judge Gerald Clifton who sentenced men in Rochdale in 2012, made a similar observation in sentencing remarks. He said the Muslim men had targeted their victims because they were not part of the offenders’ ‘community or religion.’

British Sikh and Hindu communities have been complaining about Pakistani grooming gangs since the 1980’s, prior to high-profile cases like Rotherham, Telford, and Rochdale, but complaints have fallen on deaf ears. A television report on BBC1’s Inside Out programme in 2013 was the first high profile media to cover the targeting of Sikh girls, as was coverage in the Times following sentencing of men in Leicester. In recent years Hindu and Sikh community groups have attempted to highlight the targeting of girls within their communities. Despite the BBC interviewing them in 2018, a proposed television report on the issue, was pulled for what we assume to be fear of offending the Muslim community.

The unfortunate consequence of government and police inaction in protecting victims is the hate filled narrative of far-right groups, who maliciously and falsely label all Pakistani Muslim men as ‘groomers’. We can’t allow them to hijack the debate with their poisonous and divisive message, nor can we allow political correctness to stifle obtaining justice for victims by addressing the actions of a minority. Indeed, police failures in protecting young girls from grooming gangs has also contributed to rising community tensions in the UK and has negatively impacted social cohesion.

Although it is good that the ethnicity of offenders is now being recorded, we believe the racial and religious-based motivations behind a significant proportion of perpetrators sentenced in places like Telford, Rotherham, Rochdale – needs to be further explored and openly discussed. Victims deserve justice and deserve to be heard. The first step is being able to discuss the various motivations behind this pattern of criminality freely and fearlessly. Discussion should not be censored by fear of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’.  We the undersigned therefore unequivocally support the Home Secretary’s brave and principled stand in addressing this serious issue.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations

Mohan Singh Khalsa, The Sikh Awareness Society UK 

Dal Singh Dhesi, The Sikh Youth Movement UK  

Anil Bhanot OBE, Interfaith Relations Director, Hindu Council UK 

Pt Satish K Sharma MBCS FRSA, Director, Global Hindu Federation  

Vinod Popat, The British Hindu Voice, Hindu Community Organisations Group 

Ashish Joshi, The Media Monitoring Group UK

As UK faith representatives, we support the persistent efforts of Home Secretary Priti Patel who has in the face of some considerable opposition decided to release the government report on, ‘Group based child sexual exploitation characteristics of offending.’[i] The Home Office report talks of ‘othering’ of victims by perpetrators, but remarkably failed to address one of the more obvious motivations behind street based sexual grooming gangs in the UK – that is culture linked to religion.

We believe the evidence overwhelmingly points to an inconvenient truth that non-Muslim girls (this includes Sikh, Hindu, and Christian heritage girls) have been systematically targeted in Britain, and this aspect of ‘othering’ is culturally motivated hatred. We implore the Home Secretary to have the courage to explore this element, which is critical in understanding the motivations behind street based sexual grooming gangs like those convicted in Rochdale, Rotherham, Telford and Oxford. It is important that we listen to the voice of Muslim leaders like Baroness Warsi, who bravely said, ‘a small minority’ of Pakistani men see white girls as ‘fair game’.[ii]

Victims and others concerned are increasingly speaking out. A Rotherham survivor said she was called a ‘white slag’[iii], and in evidence given to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is quoted to have said perpetrators viewed, ‘kaffir girls as worthless’.[iv] (‘Kaffir’ is a derogatory term for non-Muslims). Judge Gerald Clifton who sentenced men in Rochdale in 2012, made a similar observation in sentencing remarks. He said the men had targeted their victims because they were not part of the offenders’ ‘community or religion.’[v]

Since the 1980s British Sikh and Hindu communities have suffered at the hands of Pakistani grooming gangs.[vi],[vii] A television report on BBC1’s Inside Out programme in 2013 explored this issue – in particular, the targeting of Sikh girls.[viii] In the same year there was a conviction of men with mainly Muslim names in a case in Leicester, in which a Sikh girl was being abused above a restaurant called the Moghul Durbar.[ix],[x]

The establishment’s perceived obfuscation on the issue of race and religion, has created an opportunity for Britain’s far right activists to have a stake in this debate,[xi] in which they unfairly blame Muslims in general. They also blame others from the sub-continent for the behaviour of a minority of Muslims who use a misunderstanding of Islamic teachings to justify the negative treatment of women of other faiths and cultures.

We believe moderate voices in all communities have a duty to promote an open and honest dialogue about the racial and religious drivers behind these crimes, which will help strengthen the image and standing of the majority of British Pakistani Muslim men, who are law abiding citizens.

The Home Office must prioritise this in any subsequent research into the characteristics of those convicted in high profile sexual grooming gang cases, while showing support and understanding to those survivors who are brave enough to speak out about it.   


Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Director – Network of Sikh Organisations

Anil Bhanot OBE, Interfaith Director – Hindu Council UK

Rajnish Kashyap MCICM, General Secretary – Hindu Council UK

Arun Thakur, President – National Council of Hindu Temples UK

[i] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/priti-patel-publishes-paper-on-group-based-child-sexual-exploitation

[ii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18117529

[iii] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rotherham-grooming-gang-sexual-abuse-muslim-islamist-racism-white-girls-religious-extremism-a8261831.html

[iv] https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/19095/view/LOY000001.pdf .

[v] https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/you-preyed-on-girls-because-they-were-687987

[vi] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6428197/Sexual-exploitation-British-Sikh-girls-grooming-gangs-ignored-claims-report.html

[vii] https://metro.co.uk/2007/02/22/hindu-girls-targeted-by-extremists-108990/

[viii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b039kmx6

[ix] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-23896937

[x] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rising-tensions-between-muslims-and-sikhs-over-hidden-pattern-of-sex-grooming-2nvjjk22mxr

[xi] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/muslims-extremism-women-far-right-tommy-robinson-rape-a9143671.html