British pop star Lily Allen has come under fire after a statement that seemed to defend the overwhelmingly Muslim members of so-called “grooming gangs,” groups that have shocked the United Kingdom in recent years by sexually abusing young women and girls after plying them with alcohol and drugs.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, in a tweet to a follower who asked about a grooming gang case in Rochdale, a town in Greater Manchester, Allen said there was a high probability that the victims “would have been raped and abused by somebody else.”
The grooming gang crisis hasn’t gained much traction on this side of the Atlantic but has been a major story in Britain for a number of years. The worst example came from the city of Rotherham, where at least 1,400 children were exploited, mostly by men of Pakistani origin.
According to the U.K. Sun, Allen was asked by a follower whether he assaults would have happened “if the attackers had not been allowed into the U.K.”
“Actually, there’s a strong possibility they would have been raped and abused by somebody else at some point,” Allen responded. “That’s kind of the issue.”
Breitbart reported she later tweeted that “men that have sex with their stepdaughters twice a week for years at a time … neighbours, uncles, gardeners, priests, fast food restaurant managers that do it over and over again.”
All of these men she identified as “British white males.” She later quasi-apologized for her remarks, saying that she was sorry if any of the victims of the rapes saw her tweets and were “negatively impacted.”
Allen’s comments — apparently aimed at defending Islamist rape gangs — weren’t just insensitive, they were also wrong. A report released by anti-extremism group Quilliam last month revealed “an alarming level of over-representation of (South) Asian men in group-based child sexual exploitation crimes, otherwise known as ‘grooming gangs.’”
“Most of these men are of Pakistani (Muslim) origin, and the majority of their victims are young, white girls,” the report added. “The report suggests that the background of these men has influenced their actions.”
While these men made up 84 percent of grooming gang cases, they represented only 7 percent of the British population.
In other words, when dealing with rape gangs, these may be neighbors, uncles, gardeners, priests or fast food restaurant managers, but statistically speaking, they’re likely not traditionally British white males. And while rape that occurs without rape gangs being involved is a serious issue, ignoring the grooming gang issue won’t make it go away.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, Allen found supporters on the British left, most notably from Labour MP Jess Phillips.
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) January 7, 2018
Also unsurprising: Phillips has a history of this sort of thing, previously dismissing the Cologne New Year’s Eve attacks in Germany back in 2015 by saying that it was nothing you wouldn’t see on “Broad Street in Birmingham every week where women are baited and heckled.”
Denial does not make these sorts of things go away, however. In fact, the willingness to ignore these gangs is part of what helped them flourish in the first place.
Witless statements like those from Allen and Phillips don’t help draw attention to any wider problem with misogyny in Western society. Instead, they enable and excuse the most reprehensible excesses of reactionary Islam and of misogyny within that society, sloughing off any concerns by labeling them as racist and bigoted.
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