MUSLIM organisations and civil rights groups are to meet in West Yorkshire to launch a community campaign against sexual grooming by gangs.
Led by the Islamic Society of Britain and civil rights movement Hope not Hate, the Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) is being launched in Bradford on Friday.
Speakers from West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Council of Mosques and Bradford Council will attend.
A spokesperson for the new group said: “While there is a great deal of good work focusing on child exploitation, more needs to be done against scourge of on-street grooming by gangs.
“Local and national grass roots and faith organisations are often best-placed to reach out into the communities most beset by this problem.
“Working across child protection services, with local authorities, schools, faith communities and the police, CAASE will develop a proactive response to the growing problem of on-street grooming, raising awareness, educating and developing community-led responses.
“CAASE will meet head-on the communal challenges raised by child sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls and women.”
The initiative is supported by the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Youth Helpline, Muslim Community Helpline, Federation of Muslim Organisations, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, the Christian Muslim Forum, City Sikhs Network, and the Church of England, plus women’s rights groups.
Julie Siddiqi, of the Islamic Society of Britain, said: “There are few crimes more horrific than the sexual exploitation of young women: these girls have been let down by everyone. I have been sickened reading about these cases. There should be no excuse, no hiding place, for those who perpetrate such crimes.”
Nick Lowles, of Hope not Hate, said: “The evil that is abuse happens across all areas of society. This is not an issue of race or religion.
“We want to encourage all our partners to help us remove the veils of secrecy and control that allow abuse to ﬂourish. We also need to ensure that the media, and far-right groups, do not promote an anti-Muslim agenda over so-called ‘grooming’ trials either.
“Hope not Hate will focus on busting myths that groups such as the English Defence League and British National Party like to promote in their quest for hate and division.”
Shayka Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “This is an appalling and abhorrent kind of behaviour which is totally unacceptable regardless of race or religion.
“Some of those perpetrators who have recently been convicted happen to be from the Muslim community, so we need to be at the very front of the voice that is condemning this. It is important that leaders of religious communities speak out against this deplorable and abhorrent behaviour by adults toward vulnerable children.”
The Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation has issued a ‘call to action’ ahead of Friday’s launch at Manningham Mills Community Centre, Bradford.
The group wants zero tolerance for abuse and wants faith and community leaders to speak out. It says “abuse is not a single-community issue and should not be used to promote hatred.”
It intends to raise awareness through campaigning across all communities. And it will produce training kits for faith and community leaders, so they can speak out with confidence.
It will produce “myth-busting material to counter extremist groups who might attempt to exploit the issue in order to divide communities and stir up hatred.”
The group wants to promote itself in areas where on-street grooming is a problem. Supporters will be encouraged to report incidents and promote the work of child protection agencies.