Date: 02/07/2013

Sigh of relief among Hindu, Sikh communities in UK

AMRITSAR: There is a sigh of relief among Hindu and Sikh communities of UK after sentencing of seven Pakistani men by a court in United Kingdom for indulging in sexual grooming of minor girls.

"Grooming is a process whereby these depraved men start plying these young girls with attention, presents, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs to win them over. They then manipulate and blackmail them into performing sex acts and get them into prostitution. These underage girls are then passed around for sex among friends and other men," UK-based advocate Jas Uppal told TOI on Monday.

"Grooming had been going on for decades in UK. I know that both Hindu and Sikh communities reported cases to police. However, these reports were dismissed by police," she said, adding that right-wing groups in UK had also highlighted cases of white British girls being sexually exploited by Muslim men, predominantly of Pakistani origin.

"Once again, this was ignored and viewed by the authorities as right wing propaganda," said she, adding that, it was a group of women in the north of England called "Mothers against Grooming" which highlighted the issue and shared information with police.

UK-based organizations like Network Of Sikh Organisations, Hindu Council and Sikh Media Monitoring Group have welcomed the mosques' campaign against sexual grooming by Pakistani men in UK.

Ashish Joshi of Sikh Media Monitoring Group, UK, said, "We welcome last Friday's Khutba sermon by 500 mosques condemning sexual grooming of children, following last week's sentencing of seven Pakistani men of the Oxford Grooming Group."

He said that over the last few decades, sexual grooming of girls from Sikh and Hindu communities by males of Pakistani origin had been a matter of serious concern. Sikh and Hindu groups had met the Children's Commissioner last year, apprising him about the plight of Sikh and Hindu parents, whose children had been uprooted from their families due to grooming.

"The attitude of showing disrespect towards non-Muslim girls by a small minority of Muslim men through some confused religious sanction needs to be tackled head on by the mosques," said Anil Bhanot of Hindu Council, UK.

In a joint statement, the three organizations welcomed the initiatives now supported by the Muslim Council of Britain and the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board to help convey the message to all that such acts are evil and cannot be condoned in any religion.