The racialised and Islamophobic framing of the Rotherham and Rochdale child sexual abuse scandals

Authored by: Waqas Tufail

The Routledge International Handbook of Islamophobia

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815353751
eBook ISBN: 9781351135559
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351135559-13

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Abstract

For over a decade, British Muslims have been at the forefront of political, media and societal concerns in regards to terrorism, radicalisation, women’s rights, segregation and, most recently, the sexual exploitation and abuse of young women. Demonised, marginalised and criminalised due to inflammatory political rhetoric, inaccurate, irresponsible and sensationalist media reporting, discriminatory counter terrorism policies and legislation and state surveillance, British Muslims have emerged as a perceived racialised threat. This has continued apace with the onset of the Rochdale and Rotherham ‘grooming’ child sexual abuse scandals which in popular discourse have been dominated by representations focusing on race, ethnicity and the dangerous masculinities of Muslim men (Cockbain 2013; Gill and Harrison 2015). This disproportionate and racist narrative has served to both frame and limit the debate relating to the sexual exploitation and violence experienced by young female victims at a pivotal moment when the issue had been brought to national attention. This chapter compares and contrasts the representations and discourse of racialised and non-racialised reporting of child sexual abuse and situates the ‘grooming’ scandals in the context of anti-Muslim racism.

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