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A Veil Of Secrecy?

Posted By Clairwil On 19th August, 2007 @ 4:27 pm In Current affairs, Culture, Organisations | Comments Disabled

Todays Herald carries an story about the [1] founding of a new charity aiming to tackle what it regards as a culture of shame and secrecy surrounding abuse in the Asian and wider BME communities.

It’s founder businessman Ali Khan was inspired to act after attending a meeting at a Glasgow mosque regarding a paedophile assault that was alleged to have taken place on the premises. He was angered and horrified that it was suggested that the alleged abuser be allowed to remain in the mosque. The police were not involved and the matter was hushed up.

Khan and his charity ‘Roshni’ state than many within minority ethnic communities regard the police, social services and children’s charities as ‘white’ organisations and so rarely seek advice or report abuse to them. Equally worrying is the possibility raised by the charity that many religious and ethnic groups are not making those who work on their behalf with children subject to Disclosure checks.

The article details two further incidents of abuse at the Central Mosque in Glasgow. Thankfully on this occasion the mother of one of the boys called the police and the abuser was convicted. For those with even a passing knowledge of the abuse scandals surrounding the Catholic Church the similarities are startling. In each case the ‘good name’ of the organisation as a whole is treated with more care the the welfare of the individual.

[2] Roshni believe that this is linked to notions of shame and honour prevalent within the Asian and other minority communities. Khan argues that ‘…denouncing one family member is like denouncing the whole family’. Indeed research carried out by the charity indicates that whilst 85% of Muslims surveyed think abuse is a problem within their community around 75% would not report it to the police. The figures for the other groups surveyed namely Black, Sikh, Hindu and Refugee make similarly depressing reading.

Perhaps unsurprisingly forced marriage raises it’s ugly head. Roshni’s director Ferzanna Riley was herself subject to physical abuse throughout her childhood which reached it’s peak as her parents lured her and her younger sister to Pakistan under false pretences with a view to forcing them into marriage. The verbal and physical abuse suffered by the two girls was horrendous and it is down to the intervention of a male cousin that this did not become an honour killing. The girls ‘crime’ was to attend university which in their parents eyes made them little better than prostitutes. The last thing Ferzanna recalls before losing consciousness is her mother exhorting her father to finish her off. Despite her current work and having written a book on her experiences Ferzanna states ‘even as an adult, I wouldn’t have dreamed of reporting him because of the element of shame.’

I should stress that [3] Roshni are not solely concerned with the Muslim community or religious groups. Whilst their initial campaign will focus on what they call ‘the big three’ Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs they intend to expand their operations to cover all BME groups.

How effective Roshni’s work will be remains to be seen, their research indicates that they have something of an uphill struggle facing them. However that groups are being set up to challenge the culture of secrecy and shame is in itself encouraging. The charity’s founder Ali Khan seems to have done well in life which should mean the charity is well resourced and according to the article he is regarded as a ’senior Muslim figure’ which may give the group a bit of the clout it needs to succeed.

Roshni’s initial campaign will focus on ensuring that everyone working with children is subject to Disclosure checks, however this, whilst a good common sense measure, will not solve the problem, particularly where under-reporting of abuse has been a problem in the past.

So over to you Picklers, what would you like to see done? Do you think Roshni have over or underestimated the extent of the problem? Is a BME children’s charity necessary? What can be done to encourage victims to come forward and their communities to support them in doing so?
To what extent is lack of integration, if any contributing to this state of affairs?

Comments Disabled To "A Veil Of Secrecy?"

#1 Comment By dollymixedup On 19th August, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

I think this is great news. But CRB checks should be only part of the campaign - all mosques and koran classes should have CP policies that are adhered to.

I think a national programme of training and translated resources from NSPCC and Childline displayed in all community venues.

#2 Comment By Jamal On 19th August, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

Services of this nature are required to identify abuse and support victims, as this may enable people to speak out against any abuse they witness or are made subject to.

However, I do not know how effective this charity will be and I would think it is the job of the government and the police to ensure that that everyone working with children is subject to Disclosure checks.

If it is the case that ‘Roshni’ feels that the police, social services and the government are not doing their jobs the it should say so, and seek to work alongside them rather then to replace them.

#3 Comment By Sofia On 20th August, 2007 @ 9:47 am

I’m so glad you highlighted this. I know of one case years ago, where a teacher in a local mosque was accused of assaulting a 12 year old girl. Apparently the girl told her mother who approached the mosque. Instead of handing this person into the police, they hushed the whole thing up and sent the man back to pakistan. I can’t believe parents still sent their kids to this place and it’s still open…The girl was also hushed up and so nothing was ever proved…I definitely think there needs to be more legislation around anyone that is allowed near children, especially in these back street mosques that no authorities seem to care about.
The mosque that i’m talking about was set up by a bunch of backward men who had retired from their jobs and had nothing better to do with their time..and who themselves had married off their daughters between the ages of 12-16. I know because most of them left school and we only saw them a year later with baby in pram…apparently girls like me were the black sheeps of the community because we went to university and got a job that wasn’t in a cash and carry owned by a dodgy illegal relative.
All the police need to do is go in to these places with a community liaison bod and ask for immigration status, work permit and any qualifications these people have to teach. Also check if they have any prior convictions and then sort out any background checks on them. This of course should not apply to just one community but any that employs people who work with children or vulnerable adults.

#4 Comment By Sunny On 20th August, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

An important issue no doubt.

The thing is, last year Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui published a report on this very issue:
[4] http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/379

It was very good but unfortunately doesn’t seem to have been taken up by anyone. This guy’s plan to try and enforce police checks on people is a good one. The same should apply to Gurudwaras too.

#5 Pingback By DesiPundit » Archives » Roshni On 20th August, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

[…] at Pickled Politics writes about Roshni, a new charity that aims to tackle culture of shame and secrecy surrounding abuse in Asian co…. Khan and his charity ‘Roshni’ state than many within minority ethnic communities regard the […]

#6 Comment By Clairwil On 20th August, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

Many good points all.

That is terrible. I have a feeling that like the Catholic Church before them many Muslims are in for a shock when more people start coming forward.

I’d forgotten about that. Still a report last year, a charity this year. Perhaps this issue is going to get the profile it deserves. Knowing how long organisations take to change I think it’s too early to say whether or not Dr Siddiqui’s report has had any impact. As far as I know Roshni intend to focus on Hindu, Muslim and Sikh organisation and places of worship initially so the Gurdwaras should receive some attention.

#7 Comment By dollymixedup On 20th August, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

Clairwil is right - setting up a charity takes around a year and change takes so long to be *approved*

I’m a trustee of a community association - We used to rent a room to “urdu classes” for children and had a lot of issues around child protection. Following an incident they moved to one of the local mosques.

Much as I loathe offsted alot of classes probably should be registered as parents are not in the building? Correct me if I’m wrong there.

Although i don’t think thats the solution.

Again I don’t think that this is a muslim problem - just that some religions that are more established in the UK have learnt(over a long time) to be more accountable and to work within legal frameworks. I think it’s really difficult to expect any type of group to just suddenly conform with a new set of rules and a new way of doing things.

It’s certainly not going to change unless we discuss it and then put our money where our mouth is.

I used to work for a Manchester based BME children and young peoples charity. The Bibini Centre for Young People offered lots of different services from a residential care home to supporting newly arrived asylum seeking families.

As one of 3 or 4 white people employed by them (minimal face to face contact) - it certainly opened my eyes to
the need for such organisations
the amount of organisational racism about.

#8 Comment By Jinx On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:19 am

To what extent is lack of integration, if any contributing to this state of affairs?

To what extent was ‘lack of integration’ a contributing factor to thousands of white Catholic children in Scotland and elsewhere being sexually abused over generations and it all being hushed up for whatever reason? Are white Catholics not integrated in Scotland and other places?

#9 Comment By Jinx On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:25 am

In April, a report was issued which said that one in five British women have been sexually abused at some point in their life.

[5] http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2411379.ece

If 20% of all women have been abused, it would seem that denial of this problem is widespread and endemic amongst white people too, where presumably issues of integration are not involved.

#10 Comment By dollymixedup On 21st August, 2007 @ 2:00 am

jinx - I suspect that a large section of that abuse will have happened in the home or in a date rape scenario.

How can we reduce it?

Trying to limit the opportunities for offenders (through policies etc), informing women/children that they have the right not to be abused and making sure people in positions of power defend that right (both theoretically and practically) is probably the best we can do.

When beyond the law it’s so difficult to influence the behaviour of individuals. Society relys on a trickle down effect. Usually through campaigning the “powers that be” decide something is bad but it takes alot of work through religions, the police and media etc for that to filter down to your average person - look at domestic violence and drink driving 30 years ago they were accepted.

Maybe we should have anti rape campaigns on tv?! At least that might normalise it, remove some of the “taboo” power.

I digress - certainly any group religious or not, BME or not, should as a matter of course be working towards limiting the opportunities.
It’s a valid point that you raise though and sexual assault is a huge problem in the uk.

#11 Comment By Jinx On 21st August, 2007 @ 3:18 am


It refers to child sexual abuse.

#12 Comment By ajnabi On 21st August, 2007 @ 8:34 am

” It’s a valid point that you raise though and sexual assault is a huge problem in the uk ” That is a real cause for concern !!!

#13 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 11:57 am

fao dollymixedup 1
i am chair of roshni.I fully agree with your comments.this is the first stage of planned initiatives.roshni will carry out an evaluation some eight weeks into the project. Based on the conclusions, roshni will then move forward either in terms of rolling out the project, alternatively launching additional programs.

in terms of working with larger established agencies, roshni would be happy to do so, however based on my limited dealings with some of the agencies. it seems politics play a part in charity work!

#14 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

fao jamal 2
roshni is fully commited to working alongside the police and governmental bodies. roshni alongside strathclyde police put toghether a document title ‘protecting our children’ roshni hope to be in a position to further increase its links with relevant bodies. at no stage would roshni considr itself to be in competition with any agency or body. This is an attempt to assist with the works already being carried out by various organisations.

#15 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

fao sofia 3

i am chair of roshni, it would be helpful if we could maintain contact. please email me if that would be aceptable to you at [6] ali@roshni.org.uk

#16 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

sunny 4

hi, I will look at the link, thanks. the program will include all places of worship including Gurdwaras

ali khan

#17 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

dollymixedup 7

all very valid comments. any circumstance, whereby adult/s are working with young children, there should be the relevant procedures in place. It may be helpful to maintain contact as roshni rolls out with its programs, my email is [7] ali@roshni.org.uk.

#18 Comment By ali khan On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

fao jinx 8 - 9

lack of integration is just yet another factor in the history of abuse. roshni however is concentrating on the issue of children as its remit.

#19 Comment By Sunny On 21st August, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

Ali - thanks, I hope the project does well. Do feel free to let us know how it goes and if we can offer any support etc.

#20 Comment By Clairwil On 21st August, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

‘To what extent was ‘lack of integration’ a contributing factor to thousands of white Catholic children in Scotland and elsewhere being sexually abused over generations and it all being hushed up for whatever reason? Are white Catholics not integrated in Scotland and other places?’

I would say overall that they are, though much of the abuse took place in Catholic instituations where Catholics were separate from the rest of society.

I merely asked the question relating to integration with the intention of starting a debate. I did not offer an opinion. In any case no-one suggested that lack of integration causes abuse, merely that it may contribute to a reluctance to use mainstream services and a culture of secrecy.

‘If 20% of all women have been abused, it would seem that denial of this problem is widespread and endemic amongst white people too, where presumably issues of integration are not involved.’

Again no-one suggested that lack of integration cause abuse. Why so defensive? I also made clear above that within each each ethnic group surveyed by Roshni there was in fact a high awareness of abuse. The worrying figure was those surveyed who said that they would not report abuse if they became aware of it. Try re-reading the post.

Best of luck with the project and I hope you’ll keep us up to date.

#21 Comment By ali khan On 23rd August, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

fao clairwil

thanks, i will ensure that once roshni has carried out the pilot project, the results are published for all to see and assess.

Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1323

URLs in this post:
[1] founding of a new charity: http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1628124.0.child_abuse_in_mosques_lifting_the

[2] Roshni: http://www.roshni.org.uk/index.php?SK=27eba169b820783e8e5f40eb60505e3b&W21ID=176
[3] Roshni: http://www.roshni.org.uk/
[4] http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/379: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/379
[5] http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2411379.ece: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2411379.ece
[6] ali@roshni.org.uk: mailto:ali@roshni.org.uk
[7] ali@roshni.org.uk.: mailto:ali@roshni.org.uk.