Blamed for 'allowing the sex abuse to happen': one British Asian girl’s story

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 15:34 GMT

A woman struggles under her umbrella on her way to work in gale force winds and rain in East London October 30, 2000. REUTERS//Russell Boyce

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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A new report has shed light on the untold experiences of Asian girls in Britain who have been groomed for sexual exploitation by members of their own communities.

"Unheard Voices" published by the Muslim Women’s Network said victims are often missed because a culture of shame and honour prevents them from speaking out against their perpetrators. The report documents the abuse of 35 girls and women.

Here is one girl’s story:

"Parveen is of Pakistani heritage. She was 9 years old when her stepfather’s brother and his friend started to give her lots of attention, which included offering to take her to the shops to buy her sweets. Eventually the men were so trusted they were allowed to go to into her bedroom and read her stories before she went to sleep. They started to touch her body inappropriately but swore her to secrecy. They used to persuade her not to wear underwear underneath her nightwear. They promised Parveen that if she kept quiet, they would buy her whatever she wanted. They bought Parveen a television for her bedroom that was fixed with a hidden camera. Her mother and stepfather never questioned the generosity of presents and attention by these men.

By the time Parveen was 12 years old, they had started having sex with her. Unknown to Parveen at the time, they would sometimes lace her Horlicks drink with drugs. They also secretly filmed her and began blackmailing her. They threatened to show her family the films unless Parveen agreed to come outside with them to have sex with their friends. She was so scared she felt she had no option and was made to have sex with them and their friends, who were of Pakistani background, in their 20s and included graduates and university students. The men even fabricated stories to the family so they could take Parveen out with them. The offenders also purchased what they called "special nightwear" that the Parveen had to wear when she was with them.

The abuse continued until Parveen was about 14 years old and started suffering from sexual health problems. This led to her parents finding out that she was sexually active. Although she told them she was being forced to have sex, they blamed her for allowing the abuse to happen. Her parents forced her to undergo a hymen repair surgery and also forced her into a marriage abroad. After remaining in the marriage for a few years Parveen ran away and now lives away from her family. She has since sought help from a support group but did not want the police or agencies involved."

This is an edited version of case study contained in Unheard voices: The sexual exploitation of Asian girls and young women by the Muslim Women’s Network

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