It is a pattern we simply cannot ignore. In no fewer than 16 British towns and cities, grooming gangs have been prosecuted for raping young females since 2011, culminating last week in the conviction of 17 men and one woman at Newcastle Crown Court.
With the exception of two cases the perpetrators were from South Asian backgrounds. All but three victims were young white girls.
As the Chief Crown Prosecutor who brought the cases against the Rochdale grooming gang in 2012, I’ve come to know a disturbing amount about this crime.
Will South Asian communities condemn these atrocities – and take the necessary action? I’m not convinced. As for wider society, we must start to understand what drives this abuse if we want to stop it. Child grooming is happening under our noses – everywhere. At bus stops, in takeaways, on street corners. But we walk past, because we don’t see what’s happening. And neither do we see the attitudes driving it.
In particular, the appalling misogyny fuelling the growth of grooming gangs has barely been discussed.