A Kirklees MP has called on senior Muslim figures to show leadership on tough issues following the publication of a report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell said shocking incidents of abuse, where 1,400 children were exploited over a 16 year period, were “so serious and so utterly unacceptable that they have to be met with loud and determined condemnation from both outside and within.”
Though the crimes were largely carried out by men of Pakistani descent, Mr Reevell said they represented a tiny percentage of the Muslim population.
However, he added: “There remains in the minds of many a concern that there is a lack of credible community leaders, including Imams, who are able and willing to talk to young men about contemporary issues such as sex, drugs, alcohol and radicalisation.”
But Farook Yunus, leader of Savile Town-based youth group Kumon Y’all, said the issue had been met with strong condemnation from at all levels in the Muslim community.
“We were so shocked to hear the latest news,” he said. “When the first stories started coming out a couple of years ago, it was talked about and condemned in a big way in this community – from ground level to the pulpit at the mosque during Friday prayers.
“This is not in our name – it is not Islamic. It needs to be punished severely. We need to get rid of these kind of people in our society.”
A 2013 Kirklees Council Joint Strategic Needs Assessment stated there were likely to be around 140 children in Kirklees who displayed the signs that make them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
West Yorkshire Police have also recently confirmed they are currently investigating 65 cases of alleged child sexual exploitation throughout their area.
West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said he had met the force’s deputy chief constable to make sure that all the recommendations contained in the Rotherham report would be taken on by West Yorkshire Police where applicable.
Meanwhile, Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood has said he is certain the problem is not unique to Rotherham. He said people still in positions of responsibility who were in charge at Rotherham Council at the time of the abuse should not remain in their jobs and, if necessary, face legal action.