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Row over Straw's remarks on British Pakistanis

Labour MP Vaz says it is wrong for former home secretary to stereotype entire community over sexual assault case

Gulf News

London: A row has broken out after the former UK home secretary Jack Straw said some British Pakistani men regard white girls as ‘easy meat' for sexual abuse.

The Blackburn MP spoke out after two Asian men who raped and sexually assaulted girls in Derby were given indefinite jail terms.

Straw said there was a ‘specific problem' in some areas of the country where Pakistani men ‘target vulnerable young white girls'.

His comments were criticised by Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, who said it was wrong to ‘stereotype a whole community'. On Saturday, Mohammad Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed at Nottingham crown court after being found guilty at a trial in November of charges including rape.

The judge in the case said he did not believe the crimes were ‘racially aggravated', adding that the race of the victims and their abusers was ‘coincidental'.

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme on Saturday, Straw said: "Pakistanis, let's be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders' wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders. But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men ... who target vulnerable young white girls.

"We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way."

Straw called on the British Pakistani community to be ‘more open' about the issue. "These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically," he said.

Other avenues

"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care ... who they think are easy meat. And because they're vulnerable they ply them with gifts, they give them drugs, and then they're trapped."

Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, told the BBC Radio 4: "I disagree with Jack Straw ... I don't think you can stereotype an entire community. What you can do is look at the facts of these national cases, give it to an agency, make a proper investigation and see how we can deal with these networks of people who are involved in this horrendous crime.

"One can accept the evidence that is put before us about patterns of networks but to go that step further is pretty dangerous."

Saddique was jailed for at least 11 years while Liaqat will be locked up for at least eight years. The pair were the ringleaders of a gang that groomed and abused girls aged from 12 to 18.

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