Pak-origin men 'preying' on white girls in UK; probe launched

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has launched an investigation after two Pakistan-origin men were jailed at the Nottingham Crown Court for abusing white girls between the ages of 12 and 18, often after giving them drugs and alcohol.

The two men jailed for raping and sexually abusing the girls in Derby are Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27. The judge in the case said the race of the victims and their abusers was "coincidental", but former foreign secretary and senior Labour leader Jack Straw criticised sections of the Pakistani community in Britain.

Straw told the BBC that there was a "specific problem" in some areas and called on the Pakistani community to be "more open" about the abuse.

He said: "These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.

"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, White girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care... who they think are easy meat." The latest investigation will be conducted by an SOCA wing, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which was set up in 2006.

However, Straw's comments were criticised by fellow Labour MP and chairman of the Home Affairs Select committee Keith Vaz, who called them "pretty dangerous".

David Niven, a child protection expert and former chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, said it was an organised crime that needed "a light shone on it". But Mohammed Shafiq, Director of the Muslim youth group Ramadhan Foundation, said he believed race was an issue.

He said: "I first raised this two or three years ago and I got a lot of stick within the community from people who said I was doing the work of the British Nationalist Party (BNP) and stigmatising them. Most people didn't realise the seriousness of it".

The BNP is openly against immigration and advocates repatriation of the Asian and other immigrants to their countries origin. Shafiq added: But now, after a series of court cases, things have changed.

"I have had a lot of support. These gangs that operate are criminals. There's nothing in their culture, there's nothing in their religion to suggest that this sort of thing is ingrained."

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme yesterday, Straw said: "Pakistanis, let's be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders' wings of prisons are full of White sex offenders.

"But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men ... who target vulnerable young White girls.

"We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target White girls in this way."

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