Demons of a British ghetto

Published August 29, 2014
With the obscurantist clouds of undeserved blame and castigation lingering so low and so dark, the reality of actual evil cannot be seen. —File photo
With the obscurantist clouds of undeserved blame and castigation lingering so low and so dark, the reality of actual evil cannot be seen. —File photo
With the obscurantist clouds of undeserved blame and castigation lingering so low and so dark, the reality of actual evil cannot be seen. —File photo
With the obscurantist clouds of undeserved blame and castigation lingering so low and so dark, the reality of actual evil cannot be seen. —File photo

They are the underbellies of Britain; streets where the organisation and sterility and order of the Western world are suddenly suspended.

Here, people take chances with the rules; throw rubbish in the streets, double-park, let their toddlers roam wild, jump before cars.

Pakistan and Pakistanis live on in these British ghettos; where curries and conversations are reconstructed to be just like they were in the homeland, before a father, or a grandfather or even a great grandfather left to work in Britain.

They were the lucky ones, these chosen forbears, they got the chance to earn in pounds, even if the cost of doing so was far greater than they had imagined. Culture lost, morality dislocated and worse of all the disdain and indignity of serving those that were once your conquerors.

The story of the racism Pakistanis face in Britain has been oft told and much repeated. The ensuing generations, of original British migrants, are raised in stunted, suspicious communities. Theirs is the sentence of belonging nowhere; neither to Pakistan nor to Britian, neither present nor past.

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Extremist recruiters lurk in mosques, predatory to their confusions of culture, parasitic to their fervid desires for authenticity, real Islam, true Pakistan, hyphenated Britain.

Unwanted by mainstream British culture, whose encounter with racism and religious difference refuses to adulterate the "britishness" or include the brown-skinned or the mosque-worshiping; British Pakistani youth are the vulnerable progeny of the already marginalised.

It is no surprise then, that the worst, most egregious moral scourges dwell within this fetid environment of secrets and suspicion.

In a report released this week, the borough of Rotherham, which has a significant Pakistani British population, detailed how several men of Pakistani British descent have been involved in nearly 1400 cases of sexual exploitation of children between the years 1997-2013.

The report was shocking not simply for its crime stats, but also because the law enforcement officials and social service workers, who should have come to the aid of the exploited children failed to do so. Following the release of the report, several law enforcement and council officials who did not act in a timely manner, have offered their resignations.

In the aftermath, Muslim groups and Pakistani groups have all condemned the criminals; endorsing the consensus that concerns over racism should never have prevented local officials who could have spoken out from doing so.

That is all very well and commendable for its good intentions and meaningful outrage; but ineffective in exposing the genealogy of silence and subterfuge which allowed 1400 children to be brutalised and trafficked by ruthless criminals, belonging to their community for over a decade.

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To truly address that, there must first be recognition of the fact that British Pakistanis lack a vocabulary for having any honest conversations about sexual exploitation within their families or their communities.

Shoved under tables by taboos, the issue gets condemned to silence and in the shame-based dynamics of a culture where visible piety is equated with actual goodness.

A man who rapes a child must be cursed and condemned by their community, but if the community itself cannot find the words to do so; to acknowledge the helplessness of the victim and the cruelty of the criminal; the crime does not exist. It is invisible.

With the obscurantist clouds of undeserved blame and castigation lingering so low and so dark, the reality of actual evil cannot be seen.

It is not just the silences of the immigrant culture which helped to sustain this criminal activity.

The other factor is the trend of stigmatisation and marginalisation in Britain, which encouraged their police to rather keep aloof of the criminals (and let them go about their business) than do the right thing and risk being labeled 'racists'.

This second silence — which shoves immigrants in ghettos, refuses to allow cultures to evolve and poses tradition as an argument for immigrant exclusion — is also to blame for the depth of the depravity, the sheer number of victims and just how untouched the perpetrators were for so long.

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