The main victim of the Halifax grooming gang scandal has branded Labour MP Chi Onwurah “wilfully ignorant” for claiming the issue of grooming gangs isn’t related to race or religion.
In the second of a three-part interview with Shy Society, Georgia expresses her fury at comments made by Newcastle’s first black MP in a Guardian newspaper article just days after the city became the latest to convict a gang over the widespread grooming of vulnerable young girls.
As Georgia revealed in her first interview yesterday, racial and religious slurs were made against her on more than one occasion during her two year ordeal in a pattern which has been seen in similar cases up and down the country.
In the recent Newcastle case one of the men was heard to have said “All white women are good for is one thing, for men like me to fuck and use like trash.” During the Telford case of 2012 one of the defendants made gun gestures in the dock before claiming “It was Eid, we treated them as our guests.” And in one of the Rotherham court cases in 2010 a victim was referred to as a “white bitch” while in the same town that year Laura Wilson became known as ‘Britain’s first white honour killing’ after her Muslim boyfriend Ashtiaq Ashgar stabbed her repeatedly before dumping her body in a canal. A day before the attack he had sent a text message saying “I’m gunna send that kuffar (non-Muslim) bitch straight to hell.”
A judge summing up the Preston case in 2016 told one of the men “You lied and took no remorse. Your imam is entirely wrong when he says you have shown remorse” while Judge Gerald Clifton told the Rochdale gang during sentencing “One of the factors leading to that (the abuse) was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion. Some of you, when arrested, said it was triggered by race.”
Yet despite this pattern of behaviour from predominantly Pakistani Muslim men, MP Onwurah wrote in a national newspaper that “turning this into a matter of race and religion is an insult to the survivors” and started and ended her column by asking the question “What’s worse? Rape or racism?” Instead the MP put the rise of grooming gang convictions down to male misogyny.
Georgia, speaking out in the media for the first time, said: “Seeing that article really triggered something inside me and made me really angry. That opening line: what’s worse rape or racism? Like, do you even have to ask yourself that question? I thought after all we’ve been through and fought to get this made an issue of and then literally one article by an MP can undo years of hard work.
“For someone like Maggie Oliver (Rochdale grooming gang detective) for example, or somebody like MP Sarah Champion, it can undo all of that hard work.
“When Chi stood on a platform and said ‘turning it into a matter of race and religion is an insult to victims’, it’s not actually an insult to victims at all because we were the ones that said it was a matter of race or religion in the first place. She’s obviously not spoken to anybody otherwise she would know that or maybe she is just being wilfully ignorant. Everyone I know knows that our race, religion and culture were one of the reasons we were targeted. I’m not saying it is just white girls – I know that it’s Indians, which I know a lot of Pakistanis have disgusting views towards. It’s also Sikhs, Hindus, Czechs and Slovakians as well. But to deny a link is just ridiculous.”
In the most recent statistics we could unearth, the UK Muslim population stands at just over 5% and yet this cohort of the population is responsible for 87% of grooming gang convictions – suggesting a worrying trend between religion, race and culture. And Georgia believes that wider society is still gripped by fear of naming the true perpetrators.
“The mainstream media keeps saying these are Asian men like they are North Korean or something,” she explains. “I think it is fear – people fear being called a name, like racist, people fear that more than anything and I don’t really know why. It’s really disempowering because we try and speak out and then just get shot down by people who think they know better than us. But they don’t – not being funny but I think real life trumps a sociology degree.”
But even when Georgia has attempted to explain her position directly to local politicians, she says she has been met with a wall of denial.
“I had a councillor from Bradford talking to me recently who was just so unbelievably patronising – he was like ‘oh you might not understand all the factors at play’ and I was like ‘I’m pretty sure I do after two years of abuse, 30 hours of police interviews and a lengthy court case’.
“It worries me that the establishment media are generally considered left-wing but then they are siding with one of the most ultra-conservative religions – it just doesn’t make any sense. They are meant to be pro women and pro working class.”
Asked what she would say to leading politicians if she was given a sufficient platform, Georgia is adamant she already has her answer prepared.
“I would say please listen to the evidence and to people like me,” she adds. “And please stop demonising people that have listened. The Sarah Champion episode really upset me because I was like ‘finally someone from Labour is championing our cause’ and then within a day she has been kicked off the front-bench and silenced. It just shows the extent to which politicians are out-of-touch with the public mood in Britain.”
Stick around for part-three – out on Sunday – as Georgia speaks explosively about the multiculturalism experiment which is fuelling division right across UK communities.
Updated 10:50 on 22/09/2017: read Georgia’s initial interview again here.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain