Nazir Afzal Stresses Male Control is Real Issue
Manchester based lawyer, Nazir Afzal, has issued a stark warning to authorities about fears that young girls are being abused in his home city of Birmingham.
The lawyer, who was helped to convict the Rochdale child groomers and worked as part of Manchester’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which led the national investigation into exploitation, was born and raised in Small Heath.
And he urged victims and witnesses to give evidence so that perpetrators could be convicted.
“There isn’t anywhere where child sexual abuse is not happening,” Mr Afzal told inner city women’s group representatives at a meeting at South and City College Campus in Soho Road, Handsworth.
“Greater Manchester has 280 operations, in one alone there are 200 suspects, It beggars belief that Birmingham and the West Midlands are somehow immune.
“This kind of abuse happens everywhere. I cannot tell you the extent of what is going on, but neither regrettably can I tell you that every girl in Birmingham is safe.”
Mr Afzal, who has been called a ‘witchfinder’ by critics over his dogged pursuit of celebrities over historic allegations, argued that child abuse is not a race or religious issue – but a matter of men controlling women and young girls.
He told the meeting, organised by Labour Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood and Longbridge Labour Councillor Jess Phillips, that nationwide figures show the vast majority of child abuse is carried out by white males and happens within families.
But he said that while street grooming is also less likely than that in institutions or online, it seemed to involve a disproportionate number of Pakistani men.
His own assumption is that vulnerable girls are out at night looking for attention, cars, food, drink and drugs and that Pakistani men tend to be more involved in the late night economy – working as cab drivers, in late night shops and takeaways.
“Ethnicity is an issue, but it is not the issue, it is about male power, male control and vulnerable children being abducted,” he said.
His audience raised concerns that community leaders, including Imams working in Madrassas tended to close ranks and not raise suspicions.
Mr Afzal replied that he was not aware of any Imams, or Priests or Vicars for that matter, reporting abuse – even though “some probably have suspicions”.
He wants people to share their suspicions if, for example, they see young girls out with older men and “it does not look right”.
Coun Phillips is both a manager for Women’s Aid and the council’s victim’s champion.
Mr Mahmood said he is bringing institutions in the city together to ensure that abuse is rooted out, while lobbying for an extension to the sex offenders register to include a wider range of crimes linked to child abuse, such as domestic violence.
He said: “We need to do more to protect children and women in this city.”
The Rochdale sex trafficking gang preyed on at least 47 girls before they were convicted in 2012 of rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
The men were all British Pakistanis (except for one from Afghanistan) and from Muslim backgrounds.
The girls were white, which led to a discussion on whether the crimes were racially motivated, or, conversely, whether the early failure to investigate them was linked to the authorities’ fear or being accused of racism.
Gangs of child sex groomers were later located in Rotherham and Oxford.