UK court convicts child sex grooming gang
Three brothers and their uncle were found guilty Wednesday of sexually exploiting young girls in northern England, in the latest of a string of grooming trials that have highlighted failings by police and social workers.
Brothers Arshid and Basharat Hussain were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults in the town of Rotherham in Yorkshire between 1987 and 2003, against 15 victims as young as 11.
Their younger brother, Bannaras Hussain, had previously admitted 10 similar charges, while their uncle Qurban Ali was found guilty of conspiracy to rape.
Two women, Shelley Davies and Karen MacGregor, were convicted of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.
The case represents the first successful prosecution of a gang in Rotherham since a 2014 report warned of as many as 1,400 victims of child sexual exploitation in the town.
Their trial heard how vulnerable girls, many from troubled backgrounds or living in care, were groomed by the gang before being beaten, raped and passed around to have sex with other men.
"Arshid Hussain in particular played a key role. He was domineering and in some instances brutal in his treatment of girls," said Peter Mann of the Crown Prosecution Service.
"He used them for his own gratification, then often prostituted them or passed them on to his brothers or associates."
Mann said the girls had endured "unthinkable" suffering but showed "extraordinary courage" in giving evidence.
It is only the latest in a series of grooming trials across English towns, often involving gangs of south Asian origin and highlighting major failings in child protection.
The Rotherham report condemned the failure of police and social workers to halt the abuse, warning that in some cases officials turned a blind eye to avoid appearing racist.
South Yorkshire Police, which brought the latest case, is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission amid allegations that officers not only ignored but may even have participated in the abuse.
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim commentator who has previously spoken out on the issue, said Britain's Pakistani communities must wake up to the problem of grooming.
"The sad reality is that in the case of on-street gang grooming there is an over representation of Pakistani men," he wrote in a statement.
"Until British Pakistanis accept that this is a problem for our community we will not be able to eradicate this evil. Burying our head in the sand as the usual response is not good enough."
The six members of the gang will be sentenced on Friday.
© 2016 AFP