Newcastle another Rotherham

When sexuality is distorted,  a deviant streak is created.

I, like others, are appalled at the crimes that have been uncovered in the north east of England. Men who have abused, coerced and forced girls into sex. Plying them with alcohol and illegal drugs to satisfy their needs.

Racists will, with almost certainty, try to capitalise on the situation and likely be planning a march in Newcastle (I wrote this a few days before a march organised by EDL was announced) to air their righteous indignation with a dose of ‘told you so’ about those bloody foreigners . If only life was so simple as their minds. It isn’t clear cut as that and I will attempt to explain why.

Sexuality and human relationships are complex things and where equality and gender is considered. If one sex is seen and superior to another, distortions and conflicts will arise.

In many religions the man is considered superior to the female. Stemming from thousands of years previous that, because the man is physically stronger than the female, she is therefore considered inferior. A woman should stay at home and a man go out to work to provide for the family. But to most in the western world we know that’s bollocks.

We have progressed and gender equality is written into law, although, as recently commented there is still a long way to go when it comes to giving men and women equal pay.

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There are still those who consider women to be there for the man that they should serve the man. You only have to look at tabloid newspapers and hear general conversation where women are considered ‘birds’ and other words which I won’t use here.

If this attitude towards women is ingrained in a culture as it used to be in the UK decades ago planting yourself into another culture where women are seen as vulnerable and open to exploitation this distortion will occur. It’s no secret that the men convicted in other towns and in Newcastle were from a predominately Pakistani heritage. It only becomes racist if you say that all men from this background are into child exploitation.

For me the problem has been the lack of knowledge and education, not of those who perpetrate such crimes but those who have been in power to stop them. Police and Social Services have been too complicit in turning a blind eye to the problem. They haven’t understood the culture and background of the men and dismissed the girls as being wayward and out of control.

What if then these men targeted boys? It would have been dealt with immediately. The imbalance of our attitude towards each sex is highlighted. You would be considered a pervert if you targeted someone who was a male and 13 years old but because they were female well they get what they deserve.

Our attitude should be that both boys and girls of that age are children in the eyes of the law and that where the investigation should start. People have been for a long time unable to say what they feel in fear of offending a part of a community.

I rang into a radio show once to talk about a restaurant that in was trouble with council officials because they wanted to call it ‘The Fat Buddha’. Officials believed this would offend the Buddhist community. It was absolute nonsense. There was a time when the Buddha starved himself and then gorged himself to find ‘Nirvana’ or enlightenment. In some parts of the world the Buddha statue itself is seen as a symbol of prosperity if the person rubs the Buddha’s belly.

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It’s this lack of understanding and knowledge that has caused so many problems. We have place religious understanding and knowledge of communities to one side and allowed officials to make ridiculous statements and decisions without consulting others first.

I understand how and why these men exploited vulnerable women and young girls. Doesn’t mean I don’t condemn these repugnant crimes. Education and understanding isn’t the same as being complicit or condoning such behaviours.

RE and Humanism

As I qualified secondary RE teacher I find it appalling that the government have taken out the teaching of those with no belief in Religious Education. It’s almost like people without any faith shouldn’t have an opinion about moral values and life choices. I see it as a backwards step in highlighting the importance of the vital role that Religious Education has in our schools in a modern world.

The terrible atrocities that happen each day in our world cause us to pause and ask the question why? It is no longer the case that our children and adults should be left with the answer that some people do bad things. This is a poor excuse for educating people about religious belief.

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I was watching a programme the other night where they were discussing the issue of child exploitation that happens on a regular basis in the UK and thought myself that certain established religions have a lot to blame when it comes to talking about and educating young people about the dangers of online grooming and sexual relationships for someone who us under the legal limit of consent.

The programme highlighted the numerous times that girls were coerced into performed sex acts on their boyfriends and the blatant manipulation coupled with emotional blackmail that they felt under these circumstances. It is no longer a choice to bury your head in the sand and say that my child wouldn’t do these things and they know better.

Education is fundamental. Talking about violence does not make someone violent. In the same way, educating people about the dangers of sex doesn’t allow young people to think they are entitled to go out and experiment on the basis of the facts they have been told.

Think back to the days of your RE and would you really want the next generation to look at the world without the rich knowledge that RE does bring? Or do you want it to be begrudgingly tagged on the lesson at the end of the week on Friday afternoon?

Ched Evans

No relation but I am confused by the whole situation. It seems a moral dilemma. Should you allow someone who has a conviction for raping someone back into football? There certainly has been some strong opposition from all quarters. Voices seem firm that he shouldn’t be allowed to return. But what then do you do? Where ever he chooses to go the media will scrutinise his every move and they will make comment if he seems to be moving in a direction they don’t like.

What then do we do with person who has done their time and released? The key seems to some people that he hasn’t recognised his guilt and apologised to those he has wronged. This is the purpose of prison and rehabilitation.

Personally I think he should be allowed to return and use his position to educate men that women aren’t simply a sexual object. We still have a long way to go to leave the days of the past where women are still referred to as “birds” or a “decent piece of stuff”.

Education and respect are the principle elements in this case. For the sake of those victims who have gone on before and if we are to move forward to a decent society.

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!