The English Defence League (EDL) has declared its intention to march in Rotherham on Saturday 13 October.
The march (few details of which are currently unavailable) is described as a response to the failings of police and social workers/child protection agencies in a series of cases of sexual abuse of young women in the area. The EDL are exploiting this to attack the Asian community.
They claim that these incidents would have received greater attention if those accused had not been Asian and Muslim.
Sexual abuse is not determined by what race you are, and affects all in an equally distressing way.
Quite apart from the obvious and abhorrent racism, this shows a complete lack of understanding of the case. The victims were failed by the same process that currently affects all vulnerable individuals in this society: savage cuts in funding and staffing which made it all too easy for them to “slip through the net”.
Other reports have cited misogynistic police attitudes towards the victims as a major contributory factor; there is a suggestion that some officers may have seen the victims as willing participants, largely due to their background and class.
The UAF and Trades Council have organised a counter rally, described as a “multicultural celebration” but, in many ways, this response is inadequate; it says nothing to working- class people in Rotherham about why scapegoating Asian men is not the response we should have to these sexual abuse cases. Workers’ Liberty comrades will be taking part in this event but we think more needs to be said about the politics of the issue.
If investigations weren’t hampered by oppressive attitudes, this situation would never have arisen; as it is, it represents another sign of the marginalisation of the working class. A set of assumptions were formed, that the victims were consensual, albeit under-age, sex workers; the fact that this was not seen as a cause for action is indicative of much wider problems than the simplistic nonsense of the EDL.
Sexual abuse occurs throughout society, and to formulate a response on the grounds of religion or ethnicity is offensive, demeaning and hopelessly inadequate. As in all our activity, we have a responsibility to educate against this, and to combat the prejudices and political failings which failed the victims in the first place.