Lucy Bannerman and Richard Ford, Times (London), August 11, 2007
A hidden world in which Asian men “groom” young white girls for sex has been exposed with the jailing yesterday of two men for child-abuse offences.
Zulfqar Hussain, 46, and Qaiser Naveed, 32, from east Lancashire, were each jailed for five years and eight months after exploiting two girls aged under 16 by plying them with alcohol and drugs before having sex with them.
Both men pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to abduction, sexual activity with a child and the supply of a controlled drug.
Despite being told explicitly by police and social services that both girls were under-age and should be returned to care, the men picked up one girl from a children’s home in Blackburn and then drove on to collect her friend who was living in temporary foster care in North Wales.
Naveed, from Burnley, gave one girl the first of five Ecstasy tablets at a motorway service station before having sex with her on the back seat of the car while the group drove back to Lancashire. The court was told that the two men later took the girls to an address in Blackburn where Hussain, from Blackburn, had sex with the second girl and gave her a total of ten Ecstasy tablets.
Yesterday Judge Andrew Gilbart, QC, jailed the two Asian men under new sex laws designed to protect youngsters from being groomed for sexual activity. Judge Gilbart said: “This is a truly shocking offence. You knew them. They were exploited for sex by the two of you. No other description is possible. They were under-age girls who you knew it was your responsibility to protect and not exploit.”
The trial came amid growing concern at the attitudes of some Asian men towards white girls which campaigners for women claim few people wish to address.
Parents have complained that in parts of the country with large Asian communities white girls as young as 12 are being targeted for sex by older Asian men yet the authorities are unwilling to act because of fears of being labelled racist.
Ann Cryer, a Labour member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, has been at the forefront of attempting to tackle the problem after receiving complaints from mothers in her constituency about young Asian men targeting their under-age daughters.
Although campaigners claim that hundreds of young girls are already being passed around men within the Asian community for sex, she said that attempts to raise the problem with community leaders had met with little success, with most of them being in a state of denial about it.
After the case, the mother of one of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, welcomed the jail terms. “This will hopefully act as a warning to others,” the woman said. She had had to leave the court as details of the men’s sexual relations with the teenagers were read out. After the trial, Ms Cryer said that young Asian men were caught between two cultures having been brought up in a Western society in families while retaining the cultural values of the Asian sub-continent.
She said: “The family and cultural norms of their community means they are expected to marry a first cousin or other relative back in a village in Mirapur or wherever the family comes from. Therefore, until that marriage is arranged they look out for sex.
“At the point in their lives when they are ready for this sort of activity, Asians cannot go to Asian girls because it would be a terrible breach of the honour of the community and their family to have sex with an Asian girl before marriage.” She said that the reason Asian men targeted very young white girls was because older white girls knew that a relationship with an Asian youth was unlikely to last as the community would seek an arranged marriage with someone from the Asian sub- continent. Police and groups campaigning to protect women insisted that the grooming of youngsters is not segregated along race lines, though there is concern at the attitudes of some young Asian men towards white girls.
Parents claim that criminal networks are able to prey on young girls because the authorities are reluctant to tackle the issue for fear of upsetting race relations in areas of the North West with large ethnic minority communities.
However, Ms Cryer added: “I think there is a problem with the view Asian men generally have about white women. Their view about white women is generally fairly low. They do not seem to understand that there are white girls as moral and as good as Asian girls.”