UK Politics

Warsi: Minority of Pakistani men see white girls as 'fair game'

Baroness Warsi
Image caption Baroness Warsi is the first Muslim woman to sit in the cabinet

A "small minority" of Pakistani men see white girls as "fair game", Baroness Warsi has said.

It is important to "speak out" and acknowledge the problem in order to tackle it, she added.

Lady Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, is co-chair of the Conservative party.

Her comments follow the jailing of nine men, eight of whom were of Pakistani origin, in Rochdale for sexually abusing young girls.

Speaking to the London Evening Standard , Lady Warsi said: "There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game.

"And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.

"This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against."

'Truly dreadful'

Earlier in May, a group of Rochdale men was found guilty of a number of offences including including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child, after exploiting vulnerable girls as young as 13.

David Cameron has described the case as "truly, truly dreadful".

Following the trial, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), which led the investigation, played down suggestions there was a racial element to the case.

GMP Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said: "It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men."

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Media captionShiban Akbar: There are some cultural factors that are drivers

And head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West, Nazir Afzal, said it was wrong to put race at the centre of the case.

But Baroness Warsi said she had decided to speak out after her father urged her to "show leadership" on the controversial issue.

She said it was important for communities to take responsibility for condemning this kind of behaviour.

"In mosque after mosque, this should be raised as an issue so that anybody remotely involved should start to feel that the community is turning on them,"

"Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say, 'This is wrong, this will not be tolerated'", she added.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said Baroness Warsi's comments spoke for themselves and they did not want to elaborate on them.

'Easy meat'

BNP leader Nick Griffin, who is also an MEP for the area, has called for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Rochdale case.

He said his party's supporters had demonstrated throughout the trial to draw attention to the issues it raised.

Lady Warsi echoes comments made by Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk who said it would be "daft" to ignore a "race element" to the case.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said it was "fatuous" to deny racial and cultural factors.

But Labour MP and chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has said it is wrong to focus on a particular racial or religious group.

"There is no excuse for this kind of criminality, whoever is involved in it but I don't think it is a particular group of people, I don't think it's a particular race or religion," he said.

Last year former home secretary Jack Straw caused controversy when speaking about a similar case of abuse in Derby.

Mr Straw suggested some men of Pakistani origin see white girls as "easy meat".

"There is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls", he said.

Meanwhile, Samantha Roberts, a rape victim who has waived her right to anonymity, has written to David Cameron asking for a parliamentary inquiry into child exploitation.

Ms Roberts was attacked by 39-year-old Shakil Chowdhury and three other men in 2006 at the age of 12. He was later sentenced to six years in jail, but her other attackers have not been caught.

She told her local paper the Oldham Chronicle : "It's ridiculous that it has to take five girls, as in this case, for people to take notice.

"People have now realised that things like this do go on in places like Oldham and Rochdale. There are cultural problems."

Since the conviction of the nine men, further arrests have been made in a second sexual grooming inquiry in Rochdale.

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