Over the last few days, the number of voices disputing the reliability of the Quilliam Foundation’s “research” into sexual exploitation by so-called “grooming gangs” has grown, and now includes at least one high profile supporter. At the same time, Quilliam’s co-founder Maajid Nawaz has gone from highly vocal on the subject to very quiet. It is as if he has a problem responding to all or any of the criticism.
Most prominent among the critics has been UCL lecturer and researcher Dr Ella Cockbain, who was recommended to LBC host Afua Hirsch by Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain on the not unreasonable grounds that she had literally written the book on human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. She was happy to assist: “I'm very happy to discuss.Despite presenting itself as ‘academic’ ‘evidence-based’ research, the Quilliam report is a total sham. Mind boggling that they are still getting a platform to promote it”.
That is a singularly unequivocal stance, and the normally assertive Nawaz might have been expected to leap in and demand retraction on pain of possible legal action. But there has been no comeback to that assertion, nor to her response to Nawaz’ claim of slander by Lily Allen: “Nope, it’s only slander if it’s not true. The report claims to be an ‘academic’ ‘evidence-based’ study. It is in fact an exercise in bad science & has zero credibility. @lilyallen is therefore bang on the money in characterising it as ‘utterly useless’”.
Still no intervention from Nawaz. And now has come an article in which Dr Cockbain goes into more detail, telling “I’ve spoken to some incredible survivors of sexual exploitation … They’ve spoken out about their abuse at the hands of both Asian and white men … But they’ve had some horrible backlash from the far right. Things like being told, ‘It was just Asian men, wasn’t it?’ And then pure vitriol when they won’t deny the white offenders”.
She went on “No one is denying that some Asian men have committed terrible crimes and white girls have suffered abuse … I’ve seen equivalent collages of white faces, but these cases don’t seem to get nearly the same level of attention”. She “mentioned one case where victims’ parents were left frustrated after a trial of white men who had abused their children. It attracted only a fraction of the media coverage of a very similar case in the same area involving Asian men”. And victims were not always girls.
“UCL research looked at records for over 9,000 children affected by sexual exploitation who had been supported by the charity Barnardos between 2004 and 2013. Ella said, ‘We found that nearly one in three were boys and one in five were black or minority ethnic’”.
And remember Rochdale? Well, “Ella also researched six major CSE cases in a book published earlier this year, including in Rochdale and Derby. She said that there was little evidence of race or religion playing a role in the abuse … Out of 43 victims across the six cases, nine girls came from black or Asian backgrounds”.
Yet the impression is given, not just by the Quilliam “research”, but also those promoting it, that it is all about British men from Pakistani backgrounds committing crimes against white girls. Dr Cockbain’s own research shows why that assertion is plain flat wrong.
Maajid Nawaz and Quilliam need to admit they might not have a monopoly on factual information and engage with the professionals. Only then will their reputation recover.
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