Entre 1997 et 2013 à Rotherham, une ville du Yorkshire, plus de 1 400 enfants ont subi des sévices sexuels, été battus et fait l’objet de trafics. Alexis Jay livre dans son rapport comment la ville a pu fermer les yeux sur un scandale qui ébranle aujourd’hui tout le Royaume-Uni.
Between 1997 and 2013, more than 1,400 girls have been raped, beaten and sex-trafficked in a northern English town called Rotherham. And this is still going on, according to a government commissioned report. In 2013 alone, special investigators handled 51 cases. Other teams are looking into additional cases. The victims are white girls aged 11 or more. “There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone,” the report says. Normally, criminals are middle-aged men who act alone. But this case is something different: “there was something about the names of the offenders that always seemed to be a problem, which is that they were Muslim names.” Andrew Norfolk says. The inquiry has pointed out five Pakistanis who could be particularly involved.
Strangely enough, this is the main reason why authorities didn’t reveal this scandal. They indeed received three reports (2002, 2003, 2006) about sexual abuses and kept turning a blind eye. Social counselors often took a hands-off approach because they didn’t want to be said to be racist, and they didn’t want to trigger an anti-muslim movement which could have been terrible. Indeed, Rotherham is a multi-ethnic town with a big muslim community. Some social counselors also hoped the cases they were seeing were one-off occurrences and hoped they would go away. That may have been bolstered by the fact that the vast majority of child sexual abusers in Britain are white males. But counselors are not the only ones to blame: the police “gave no priority to child sexual abuse, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime,” the report said. On top of that, victims didn’t want to speak about it for fear of vengeance or public shame in their communities. Muhbeen Hussain explains in several interviews that the perpetrators are to be condemned and that the police must not justify their failure to act by their fear of being called racist.
Some counselors have already resigned, but the one who is expected to resign is Shaun Wright, the old police chief of Rotherham. Even prime minister David Cameron has asked him to resign, but Wright refuses to do so. On the other hand, the police has already apologised to the victims and their families.
The town is now aware of these crimes, inquiring into them and apologising to the victims, however the main question is about the resignation of Mr Wright. But does he really have a choice after three reports and so much evidence?
Paul BLANCHARD & Sébastien DUFFAU