Complaints over use of 'Asian' label in grooming cases
Groups representing Sikh and Hindu communities have complained about the term "Asian" being used to describe the men involved in grooming trials.
Earlier this month, nine men were jailed for being part of a sex ring in Rochdale which groomed girls for sex.
The groups said the men involved were "almost always of Pakistani origin" and the term "Asian" was inaccurate.
The Ramadan Foundation has said grooming is "a significant problem for the British Pakistani community".
The joint statement was released by the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, The Hindu Forum of Britain, and The Sikh Media Monitoring Group UK.
It says the reluctance of the media and the government to discuss the "disproportionate representation of Muslims in such cases" and the fact victims are "almost always non-Muslim girls" is adding to the cause of far-right groups such as the BNP.
It said blanket use of the word "Asian" was "unfair to other communities of Asian origin".
"We believe that in this case the government itself is sanctioning the use of term Asian as a way of clouding responsibility," the groups say.
The groups say sex gangs have targeted Hindu and Sikh girls but the cases are rarely reported as they seldom reach the courts.
The statement says: "We believe that political correctness stifles debate and will not facilitate a frank and mature discussion or solutions to get to the root of why the above pattern is emerging in these crimes and how to help find a solution to the problem.
"We will not be able to do that if we mask the identity of those involved based on misguided views of 'protecting a vulnerable community' of the perpetrators and not looking at the vulnerable community of victims."
Last Week Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of The Ramadhan Foundation, said: "There is an over-representation [of Asian men] amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming [and] there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals," he said.
He said community elders were "burying their heads" over the issue and police and local councils should not "be frightened" to address the problem, as there was "a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over-sensitive".
On Monday, the chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, said the race of the men involved could not be ignored and it was "fatuous" to deny racial and cultural factors.
But assistant chief constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police, said the case was not about race, but about "adults preying on vulnerable young children".
Liverpool Crown Court heard the nine men plied their victims, one as young as 13, with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex.
The case sparked protests by far-right groups but police insisted the grooming was not "racially motivated".