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2015 National Black Members' Conference
17 September 2014

Conference is appalled at the cases of grooming and sexual abuse in Rotherham. While we do not know the true scale the independent enquiry into Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham led by Alexis Jay gives a conservative estimate involving approximately 1400 children, adding: “It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered.” Conference believes that perpetrators of child abuse must not be protected by the kind of denial and silence that has so long allowed victims to suffer alone. As historic cases of child abuse within the UK continue to be uncovered, Conference believes that preventing such cases in the future must be the highest priority.

The reporting of the sexual abuse within Rotherham has been racialised within the media to the extent that disturbing issues of women and children not being believed or supported have become an all too common thread linking many recent cases. Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Services lead on child sexual abuse and violence against women and girls explained that ‘it is not the abusers’ race that defines them. It is their attitude to women’. Conference believes that at the root of this problem is misogyny.

Conference draws attention to an in-depth report by the Children’s Commissioner on grooming, abuse and gangs which highlights the fact that the vast majority of the victims were young vulnerable women and that of the perpetrators, 72% were male, 10% were female and 18% were undisclosed. The majority of the perpetrators were white with Black perpetrators the second largest category. 28% of the victims were from Black backgrounds themselves.

Conference believes that racialising the problem of sexual abuse means that victims and perpetrators that do not fit the perceived model will continue to be overlooked. Furthermore, the EDL and other far right groups have hijacked the personal tragedy of the victims turning concerns into attacks on race and religion. A whole community are now under siege.

We must not allow these horrendous crimes to be used as political capital. The far right offers no answer to the problems or protections for the people who have been abused. We must not allow hate to divide our communities and the next general election must be used to ensure that the far right do not maintain a presence in Rotherham.

Conference believes that tackling sexual abuse, no matter who the perpetrator or who the victim is should be our highest priority in safeguarding vulnerable people. This also means addressing issues of sexual violence being experienced by young Black women who will now feel more isolated than ever before.

Conference, we call upon the National Black members committee to:

1)Work with the Labour Link in mobilising the local vote in Rotherham

2)Work with Hope not hate and other community organisations to address issues of racism and anti-muslim hate so that the far right groups cannot continue to exploit this horrific issue for their gain

3)Continue to campaign against austerity and cuts which saw money taken away from services to protect vulnerable people

4)To work with community based organisations to challenge immigration myths and campaign to highlight the positive contributions of both migrant and Muslim communities to Britain