Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Ella Hill: As a Rotherham grooming gang survivor, I want people to know about the religious extremism which inspired my abusers
I’m a Rotherham grooming gang survivor. I call myself a survivor because I’m still alive. I’m part of the UK’s largest ever child sexual abuse investigation. As a teenager, I was taken to various houses and flats above takeaways in the north of England, to be beaten, tortured and raped over 100 times. I was called a “white slag” and “white c***” as they beat me.
They made it clear that because I was a non-Muslim, and not a virgin, and because I didn’t dress “modestly”, that they believed I deserved to be “punished”. They said I had to “obey” or be beaten.
Fear of being killed, and threats to my parents’ lives, made it impossible for me to escape for about a year. The police didn’t help me. As I write this, it has been widely reported that a letter has been sent to Muslim groups around the country declaring a national “Punish a Muslim” day; elsewhere, the leaders of Britain First have been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.
In mainland Europe, conflict surrounding immigrants and refugees has been fuelled by stories of women being raped by migrants. People have been calling for violent attacks against “any Muslims” and have declared “war on Islam”. Islamophobic online hate and personal attacks occur every day. In response, anti-fascist groups and the “far left” have carried out their own violent attacks on groups they perceive to comprise “white supremacists” or “Nazis”.
As someone who has experienced life inside a grooming gang, I can tell you with certainty that none of this is likely to make any difference to the behaviours of groomers. Like terrorists, they firmly believe that the crimes they carry out are justified by their religious beliefs.
If anything, rising anti-Muslim hate will probably make groomers stronger in their convictions, and drive ordinary young Muslim men towards fundamentalism, grooming gangs and terrorism. The camaraderie, protection, money, and kudos that these groups offer, makes them a strong pull for anyone. Worryingly, several young men I have spoken to joke that being a gangster and going to jail are their “life goals”… read more: