In England, this time in the golden academic city of Oxford, the site of so many triumphs at its renowned university and by the fictional detective Endeavor Morse, where the gentle Isis winds its watery way among overhanging trees, a fourth gang of adult men has been convicted for running a torture ring that targeted girls as young as 11. This time, the men numbered seven.
All the men, in all the convicted gangs, were Muslim, and most were of Pakistani ancestry.
All the girls were white.
Of course, organized rape and torture (besides being raped by multiple men, the girls were beaten, bitten, and burned, as well as forced to ingest drugs that could have killed them) is not limited to Muslim men, even in the UK. Yet this targeting of victims by their racial characteristics is too startling to ignore.
The criminals did not simply brutalize their victims by themselves. They also offered them – for a fee – to other Muslim men across the UK. Using cellphones and computers, they drew in male customers from many miles distant, men who were happy to pay a fee that allowed them to torture girls younger than their own children, girls too young to give willing consent, who were kept drugged and drunk.
The gang members had, of course, groomed the girls beforehand. They made themselves seem fun, hip. They used nicknames, so the girls never knew their real names.
The girls’ parents, mad with worry, pleaded for help from social services, which rarely, weakly, responded. Something about the girls being “tearaways”. Something about cultural sensitivity. Something that was not help, that made the continuing torture officially unnoticed.
Now, if my daughter left the house at night and returned bruised and bitten, I would not simply wash her up and send her to school. I would assume that animals had brutalized her, and we would be off to the police instantly (before washing, so they could check for DNA samples, even if at the time I had no idea she’d been raped).
That’s what these parents should have done, and social services should have been on high alert at the repeated victimization they were told of. Plus, the police should have notified all parents of the gang of men targeting little English girls. Because part of the attraction, what drew the gangs’ attention, was the girls’ appearance.
These girls were under sixteen. Their bodies were still immature, their brains were still forming. What we know of brain development is that, from about age 10 to at least age 21 (and possibly four years beyond that), the human brain undergoes enormous change. It literally re-forms itself. While that process goes on, the brain is wholly different from an adult brain, and functions differently, as anyone who has raised adolescents knows.
Children in adolescence can make good choices – sometimes. They can reason through problems – sometimes. Given enough guidance, they can decide between black and white, good and evil. However, their brains are hijacked by stress, pain, drugs, alcohol . . . all of which were present in these cases. Adolescents, like adults, can also be victimized by Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captors and tormentors.
That’s why every reasonable nation has laws protecting underage children, who are rightly regarded as too young – too unformed-brain – to give consent to sexual activity. That is why sexual activity with them is rightly regarded as rape.
So they cannot be blamed for being victimized.
Yet that is what some of the irresponsible, unprofessional people in social services and the police are doing.
We all need to get this out in the open, so it can be tackled. In Britain, the Muslim and specifically Pakistani communities must fight rape and torture. Finally, imams in Britain will be preaching against the sexual grooming of children (the executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain recently stated, “I’m not sure the Muslim community’s response has been good enough.” Gee. Ya think?). It’s also time for men to tackle this issue head-on. Bleating about cultural differences is ridiculous. Rapists know what they’re doing. They just don’t want good men to know. Men of goodness, who would never rape, need to realize that they know rapists: they’re their colleagues, neighbors, friends, brothers. Just because you’ve never heard them mention rape doesn’t mean they haven’t done it. (In this recent musing, a writer believes he has no adulterers amongst his acquaintance because he himself has stayed faithful. Like they would tell him. He simply hasn’t investigated enough.)
Finally, we need to get real about evil/mental illness/emotional immaturity. Whatever you call it, unchecked, it creates a huge pain footprint. The girls who suffered through this agony which was not their fault (they’re supposed to be protected, remember?) will never be able to retrieve their lost years, their lost innocence. They will never be able to remove the scars, physical and emotional, and if they create any kind of healthy life for themselves, it will be only with the help and empathy of others.
Prevent this horror from happening again. Imprison the criminals, forever. Sack the incompetent, uncaring police officers and social service workers on every level of their hierarchies.
And stop blaming the victims.