By Sara Khan
Was Jimmy Savile's religion, race or culture ever scrutinised as a possible reason for his vile sexual offences against women and girls? Spanning over 54 years, his youngest victim was five years old; and despite the "unprecedented" level of abuse, his religious beliefs were never questioned. Stuart Hall admitted abusing girls between the ages of nine and seventeen over a period of twenty years, yet never once was his race or religion thought to be a relevant factor in his abuse.
The same day that the Oxford groomers were found guilty, Stuart Hazell was sentenced to 38 years for the murder of Tia Sharpe where there was "no doubt" that Hazell had developed a sexual interest in the 12-year-old. Another case of child sexual abuse yesterday; David Cameron from Bradford was jailed for 10 years after having been found guilty of plying two young girls with drink and drugs for sex. This week, the jury in the trial of April Jones, were shown extreme pictures of naked underage girls being sexually abused, images that were held on suspect Mark Bridger's computer. We don't ask whether Cameron, Hazell, Hall or Savile, were motivated by white culture or their religion yet every newspaper I've read or news item I've watched, has consistently referred to the Oxford groomers' culture and religion.
I have worked with and written extensively about the Pakistani community needing to address the reality that some men abuse all females, regardless of the colour of their skin. I am not defending the horrific and sickening violence caused by the Oxford groomers; I am questioning the media's response to such cases. Why unlike Asian abusers, have the religion, race or culture of white abusers' never been a matter of focus? It is because these men are protected by white privilege. Those societal privileges, which allow white people, unspoken advantages. People of BME backgrounds are denied such treatment and their cultural beliefs and religion, unlike white people, are always on the table for discussion. We (just about) acknowledge institutional racism, but we don't acknowledge underlying white privilege and its consequences.
White privilege is perceived and treated as the norm; non-whites still perceived as the 'other,' despite decades of equality campaigning. I don't believe child abusers are born, they are made and instead of understanding the reasons why men - of all races - sexually exploit children, we are fed a narrow narrative and forced to endure the disproportionate analysis of a predominately white driven media: that race and religion must be the contributory causes for these men's violence against children.
There is no one answers why men across the board, exploit and abuse children, nor is there a one size fits all solution in tackling the reasons for abuse. It's too easy to focus on non-white's religion or culture but it's far more difficult to ask thorny questions about the prevalence of violent pornography, the sexual objectification of children, gender inequality and victim blaming, all normalised in our society today. We all have a part to play in questioning the attitudes and practices that prevail in our society but narrowing the discussion to religion or race only, does not do justice in addressing or preventing child sexual exploitation.
Sara Khan is Director of Inspire, a human rights organisation which works to address the inequalities facing British Muslim women