The fear of seeming racist is racist and preventing integration

On Wednesday 27th August, it was reported that 1,400 girls were victims of abuse. Authorities had known for 16 years but did nothing because they feared that speaking out against the perpetrators who were of Pakistani origin would seem racist. 

Imagine going to a country where nobody knows who you are, what you do, where you come from, and your religious and cultural beliefs. Now imagine living like that for years and decades. It may not have been too hard to imagine for some, because the idea of ‘love thy neighbour’ no longer exists.

Instead, in this crowded country we are all living worlds apart. Societies and communities are more disjointed than ever and we are all to blame because of the fear of difference.

The report outlined that girls, some as young as 12, were sexually abused, gang raped, beaten and some were impregnated and petrol thrown over them, but South Yorkshire police and Rotherham council ignored the abuse. This was an injustice not only to the victims but also minority communities.

Violence against women can never be justified and neither can the claim that the representatives and upholders of the law were fearful of seeming racist if they reported the abusers.

In fact, it is racist to not have reported them. Distinguishing the perpetrators as Asian men rather than men committing an offence is racist. Exempting Asian men from the law that all British citizens are equal under is racist.

I do not want to dismiss how this case shows that Asian men are being singled out under the law which poses a threat to other girls who may face a similar situation. And I do not want to pass on the fact that the girls were treated horrifically and unequally under the law where their voices went unheard.

But I feel that this entire case shows why there is a problem with integration in society and why multiculturalism is not working. The fear of seeming racist or coming across as racist is leading to segregation because people are too afraid to speak out when they see any wrong-doing by people not of their culture, colour or religion.

I was shocked when I watched the news and saw an interview with a local woman in Rotherham claiming it seemed unusual that girls were always near cars full of Asian men and there seemed to be something suspicion happening – but she had done nothing about it.

The Rotherham child abuse scandal was a narrative about the East and West divide when it should have been a case about crime, law and order.

We have lost the sense of community, society, and even plain humanity because of the fear of difference, religion, culture and terms such as ‘racism’ and ‘islamaphobia’.

Protest in Bristol

Protest in Bristol

In Bristol on Saturday 29th August, 60 people including mothers, fathers and children, protested against institutional racism. One woman wearing a head scarf was seen holding a banner saying ‘we’re yearning for integration’. This highlights the problem minority communities are facing, how the fear of seeming racist is causing segregation, but also that minority communities want to be part of the majority.

We need to start accepting one another as British citizens. We need to open up to differences in cultures and then stand up to any wrong-doing. This has worked in the past when Female Genital Mutilation was being practised in communities in the UK as part of a certain culture but was then illegalised because it was deemed immoral and unethical.

If we are really a multicultural society, we should view each and every individual in this country as an equal, a peer, a British citizen. And we will do everything to prevent any injustices regardless of fearing another’s difference.