Oxford child sex abuse ring
The Oxford child sex abuse ring was a group of seven men who, in May 2013, were convicted of sexual offences including rape, conspiracy to commit rape, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and procuring a miscarriage. Their six underage victims were "subjected to sexual violence marked out by its sadism: sexual assaults designed to draw blood, multiple rapes, [and] physical attacks in which [they were] choked". The girls were white and all the abusers were not, leading to renewed discussion as to whether the crimes were racially motivated and whether the initial failure to investigate them was linked to the authorities' fear of being accused of racism.
In March 2015, a report revealed that more than 300 children, mostly girls from the city of Oxford, could have been groomed and sexually exploited in the area. It accused the Thames Valley Police, then led by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, of disbelieving the girls and failing to act on repeated calls for help, and Oxfordshire Social Services of failing to protect them despite compelling evidence they were in danger. The report also called for research into why a significant number of perpetrators of child grooming are of "Pakistani and/or Muslim heritage".
- Kamar Jamil, of Oxford, was found guilty of five counts of rape, two counts of conspiracy to rape and one count of arranging child prostitution.
- Akhtar Dogar, of Oxford, was found guilty of five counts of rape, three counts of conspiracy to rape, two counts of child prostitution and one count of trafficking.
- Anjum Dogar, of Oxford, was found guilty of three counts of rape, two counts of child prostitution, three counts of conspiracy to rape and one count of trafficking.
- Assad Hussain, of Oxford, was found not guilty of rape and guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child.
- Mohammed Karrar, of Oxford, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to rape, four counts of rape of a child, one count of using an instrument to procure miscarriage, two counts of trafficking, one count of assault of a child by penetration, two counts of child prostitution, three counts of rape, two counts of conspiracy to rape a child and one count of supplying a class A drug.
- Bassam Karrar, of Oxford, was found guilty of two counts of rape, one count of rape of a child, two counts of conspiracy to rape a child, two counts of child prostitution, one count of trafficking and one count of conspiracy to rape.
- Zeeshan Ahmed, of Oxford, was found guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child.
From 2004 to 2012, the men groomed children from 11- to 15-years-old from dysfunctional backgrounds who were unlikely to be believed by others living in care homes. They were given presents, plied with alcohol, and introduced to crack cocaine and heroin. After the girls became dependent on the men, they were guarded so they could not escape and threatened that they and their families would be harmed if they tried to leave. The girls were raped vaginally, orally, and anally, sometimes by several men, the abuse occasionally lasting for several days at a time. Some girls were groomed to be prostitutes and taken to guest houses in Bradford, Leeds, London, Slough, and Bournemouth where men paid to have sex with them. The girls were subjected to extreme sexual violence, biting, suffocating, and burning. They were tortured with knives, baseball bats, and meat cleavers and were occasionally urinated upon. One 14-year-old girl was burned with a lighter when she tried to resist having sex. The mother of another girl said that "she had begged social services staff to rescue her [daughter] from the gang", who had "threatened to cut the girl's face off" and "slit the throats" of members of the girl's family.
One girl aged 12 was forced into prostitution. She was abused in various places around Oxford, including a flat, the Nanford Guest House, Travelodge and in Shotover Woods. She frequently contracted chlamydia and was covered in burns from where men had stubbed out their cigarettes. She began to self-harm and described her experiences as "living hell". She said that the men sometimes seemed to be aroused by her crying.
Mohammed Karrar, the ringleader of the gang was "brazen in his exploitation". According to the Guardian, he "acted in the belief that the authorities would never challenge him—something that for years proved to be true." He branded the buttocks of one under-aged victim with his initial, "M", marking her as his property and charged men between £400 and £600 to have sex with her. Karrar visited the girl at her house where she was a carer for her deaf and ill parents. He performed an illegal abortion on the same girl.
He regularly had sex with her when she was the age of 12. His brother had a parallel relationship with her, although she did not see him as often. Before she reached her teens, she was pregnant. When Mohammed Karrar found out, he was “fucking fuming” with her for allowing it to happen and told her, “You should have been more responsible.” He went into a rage and grabbed her by the throat. Soon after, he gave her drugs and took her to Reading, where a backstreet abortion was performed with a hooked instrument.
A 14-year-old girl was threatened with a gun into having sex with member of the sex ring. She said the gang members were aware she lived in a children's home and that Akhtar Dogar, a gang member, waited around the corner from the children's home in Henley-on-Thames where she lived. She described being transported around flats, guest houses and parks where she was then raped.
The Daily Telegraph reported Dr Taj Hargey, imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, as saying that "race and religion were inextricably linked to the recent spate of grooming rings in which Muslim men have targeted under-age white girls":
The view of some Islamic preachers towards white women can be appalling. They encourage their followers to believe that these women are habitually promiscuous, decadent, and sleazy—sins which are made all the worse by the fact that they are kaffurs or non-believers. Their dress code, from miniskirts to sleeveless tops, is deemed to reflect their impure and immoral outlook. According to this mentality, these white women deserve to be punished for their behaviour by being exploited and degraded.
Hargey blames the agencies of the state, including the police, social services and the care system, who ″seemed eager to ignore the sickening exploitation that was happening before their eyes. Terrified of accusations of racism, desperate not to undermine the official creed of cultural diversity, they took no action against obvious abuse."
In the same newspaper, journalist Allison Pearson claimed that "fear of racism" had allowed sex crimes against white girls by Pakistani Muslims to become a serious problem not only in Oxford but throughout the country. She described the Pakistani Muslim community as "essentially a Victorian society that has landed like Doctor Who's Tardis on a liberal, permissive planet it despises". She criticised the views of Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children's Commissioner, who has attempted to downplay the over-representation of certain groups in sex-crimes against children. While expressing relief that some action was now being taken against the problem, she concluded that trouble was still in store: "what remains is a political class still far too timid to challenge growing and alarming separatism in Muslim education and law."
In The Independent, commentator Paul Vallely pointed out that there was a danger of the media, fuelled on a toxic mixture of "combination of depravity and self-righteous indignation", peddling vicious stereotypes about Pakistani Muslim culture. He pointed out that these sexual crimes were not confined to Pakistani Muslims or directed purely against white victims: a Turkish Muslim gang in London had targeted a Bangladeshi girl and, in the Rochdale case, one Pakistani Muslim perpetrator had raped a member of his own community. He spotlighted voices from the Muslim community who were interrogating issues around the dysfunction there:
- The novelist Bina Shah has criticised a culture of racism, misogyny, tribalism and sexual vulgarity among men "who hail from the poorest, least educated, and most closed-off parts of Pakistan". Julie Siddiqi, the executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, has called for a change in the male dominance at the top of many Muslim organisations which may have contributed to their community's silence on grooming.
In June 2013 the gang received sentences totalling 95 years for what the presiding judge, Judge Peter Rook, described as "a series of sexual crimes of the utmost depravity". Brothers Mohammed and Bassam Karrar received life sentences, with minimum tariffs of 20 years for Mohammed Karrar and 15 years for Bassam Karrar. Brothers Akhtar and Anjum Dogar received life sentences with minimum tariffs of 17 years. Kamar Jamil received a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 12 years. Assad Hussain and Zeeshan Ahmed were both jailed for seven years.
A serious case review of the Oxford sex gang commissioned by Maggie Blyth, independent chair of the Oxfordshire safeguarding children board, was released in March 2015. It reported that as many as 373 children, 50 of them boys, may have been targeted for sex in Oxfordshire in sixteen years. The report criticized Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council for "many errors" and not acting sooner. Among the failings are a culture of denial among the professionals who blamed girls for precocious and difficult behaviour, blamed girls for putting themselves at risk of harm, tolerated underage sexual activity by girls with older men, and failed to recognize girls had been groomed and violently controlled. The report called for research into why people of "Pakistani and/or Muslim heritage" constituted a significant number of the perpetrators.
The report found no evidence of "wilful professional misconduct" and said that senior managers were not made aware of what was going on, and no one had been disciplined or sacked despite the errors made. The MP for Oxford East, Andrew Smith, called on the government to set up an independent inquiry. Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at a summit to address the issue after similar scandals in Rotherham and Oxfordshire, made a number of proposals, including up to five years in jail for teachers, councillors, and social workers in England and Wales who failed to protect children, unlimited fines for individuals and organisations shown to have let children down, and a national helpline to enable professionals to report bad practice.
- "Oxfordshire grooming victims may have totalled 373 children". BBC News. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Laville, Sandra; Topping, Alexandra (14 May 2013). "Oxford gang skillfully groomed young victims then sold them for £600 a time". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- "Oxford paedophile ring: 370 girls 'faced abuse'". Channel 4. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- Pearson, Allison (15 May 2013). "Oxford grooming gang: We will regret ignoring Asian thugs who target white girls". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- Sandra Laville (1 March 2015). "Serious case review slams police failure in serial abuse of Oxford girls". The Guardian.
- Topping, Alexandra (27 June 2013). "Oxford child sex abuse ring: seven jailed for torture and rape of girls". London: Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Topping, Alexandra (15 January 2013). "Oxford gang drugged young girls and sold them as prostitutes, court told". London: Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Marsden, Sam (15 January 2013). "Gang of nine Asian men in Oxford groomed girls as young as 11, court hears". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "Bullfinch: Girl 1 'so abused she never wanted to wake up'". Oxford Times. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "Oxford exploitation trial: Girl had 'back-room abortion'". BBC. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Topping, Alexandra (26 June 2013). "Oxford child sex abuse ring 'threatened to cut off victim's face'". London: Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- "Oxford 'child sex ring committed depraved abuse'". BBC. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (17 January 2013). "Girl was 'sold' aged 11, drugged and raped by child sex ring, court told". London: Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "Bullfinch Day 3: Girl, 11, branded and sold to gang". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (15 May 2013). "Oxford child sex gang victim tells her story: 'It seemed normal, but it wasn't – I was a child'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (21 January 2013). "Oxford child sex gang 'threatened victim with gun'". London: Independent. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Topping, Alexandra (21 January 2013). "Oxford child sex abuse ring witness tells court: I did not have a choice". London: Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Dixon, Hayley (16 May 2013). "'Imams Promote Grooming Rings', Muslim Leader Claims". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- Vallely, Paul (19 May 2013). "The Oxford child sex abuse case shows how the media talks in stereotypes but misses the big picture". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- "Oxfordshire grooming victims may have totalled 373 children". BBC. 3 March 2015.
- Sandra Laville (3 March 2015). "Professionals blamed Oxfordshire girls for their sexual abuse, report finds". The Guardian.
- "UK children suffered sex abuse on 'industrial scale'". BBC. 3 March 2015.