UK’s Suella Braverman receives backlash over her racist comments about Pakistanis

Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend a meeting of the Grooming Gang Taskforce during a visit to the offices of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in Leeds, Britain April 3, 2023. —Reuters
  • Suella Braverman singled out British Pakistani men over concerns about grooming gangs. 
  • Braverman’s racist generalisation of Pakistanis widely condemned.
  • UK minister asked to apologise for her “gross misrepresentation”.

LONDON: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been accused of peddling extremist far-right lies about Pakistanis after she singled out British Pakistani men over concerns about grooming gangs as she accused authorities of turning a “blind eye” to signs of abuse involving young people.

Braverman’s comments, tantamount to racist and bigoted generalisation of Pakistanis, have been condemned widely and she has been urged to apologise to Pakistanis for putting their lives in danger and for increasing the threat of racist attacks on them after her unfounded allegations.

The minister’s language was condemned by Robina Qureshi, CEO of the refugee charity Positive Action in Housing (PAiH).

She called on the home secretary to apologise for her “gross misrepresentation”, describing her language around British Pakistani men as “unacceptable”.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also condemned the UK home secretary and expressed its shock at her hatred towards Pakistanis and for singling out Pakistanis.

The UK minister had said that the “systematic and institutional failure to safeguard the welfare of children when it comes to sexual abuse” was one of the biggest scandals in British history.

“What’s clear is that what we’ve seen is a practice whereby vulnerable white English girls, sometimes in care, sometimes who are in challenging circumstances, being pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who’ve worked in child abuse rings or networks,” she had told Sky News.

Charity boss Qureshi blasted Braverman’s, saying they were “unacceptable” and demanded an apology for the “gross misrepresentation” of the Pakistani community.

“Her remarks are in direct contradiction to her own Department’s research, which found that most groups of child sex offenders tend to be white men under the age of 30.

“She is openly parroting far-right myths about racial groups and amplifying them into national trends. Her commentary is unacceptable, and I call on her to apologise for her gross misrepresentations of our communities.”

Qureshi said Braverman’s comments were “grossly offensive” to the thousands of law-abiding British Pakistanis living in the UK, and noted that newly elected First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf is of Pakistani descent.

“Yet she displays all the tact of a bull in a china shop,” Qureshi added.

“Her comments are tantamount to inciting racist violence which is a criminal offence. Parliament must reign in this government minister who openly tells mistruths in the face of her own Department’s research. Sadly, this Home Secretary appears to be on a mission to cause as much offence as possible to those of immigrant stock, and to appease her far-right voter base. Yet the irony for her is that the far right don’t want brown or black immigrants, or their children, or her, in this country or in positions of power.”

Suella Braverman has been warned by the NSPCC that sexual predators do not just come from “one background” and that a focus solely on race could create new “blind spots” when tackling child abuse.

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, welcomed the government’s focus on tackling child abuse but also stressed that race should not be the sole focus of the issue.

“Far too many children continue to be impacted by sexual abuse, with a staggering 103,000 offences recorded by police last year in communities across the country and online,” he said.

“Child sexual exploitation by organised networks is one pernicious form of abuse and it’s welcome to see the Government focus on disrupting perpetrators and protecting victims. This must be backed up with funding for services to help child victims recover and support for a justice system that is struggling to cope.

“It’s also vital we remember that any child can be a victim of child sexual exploitation and adult perpetrators do not just come from one background. Sexual predators will target the most vulnerable and accessible children in society and there must be a focus on more than just race so we do not create new blind spots that prevent victims from being identified.

“Better data collection by law enforcement as part of the package of measures announced today would help ensure all those working to protect children have a clearer, evidence-based understanding of child sexual abuse and exploitation so it can be tackled more effectively.”

Previous Home Office-commissioned research found most group child sex offenders are men under the age of 30 and the majority are white, while adding there is not enough evidence to suggest members of grooming gangs are more likely to be Asian or black than other ethnicities.

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