By Jean Calder

There are two false assumptions that have distorted debate about the Rochdale abuse case (hardly ‘grooming’ given that the victims were actively and serially abused).

The first is that victims were targeted because they were vulnerable or white. This confuses the issue, missing the fact that they were targeted primarily because of their gender, by misogynist men who thought these unprotected girls easy prey.

A second associated assumption, unfortunately echoed by the judge, is that these abusive men were protective of women within their own communities. In fact, abusive men who attack women outside their homes often pose a serious threat to those within them, though they may express and justify their violence in different ways.

The fact that such men may express authoritarian religious and social attitudes about women and enforce their confinement within the home is evidence of a desire to control rather than protect, to limit rights rather than defend them. Such attitudes increase rather than lessen the danger and help silence victims and witnesses.

Reportedly, several of these men told their victims that “in their country” sex with minors is acceptable. In the light of this, it is to be hoped that the police and social services offer assistance to all women and children who have had contact with these dangerous men.

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