Published On: Thu, Jul 17th, 2014 on 12:34 pm

Grooming campaign talks about stigmas during Ramadan


A campaign fighting the sexual exploitation of girls has spoken out about the stigma attached to talking about the issue during the month of Ramadan.

Together Against Grooming (TAG) is a volunteer-run project based in West Yorkshire led by a social enterprise named Better Futures Together.

It is made up of a dozen volunteers, who take time out of their busy day jobs to talk about tackling sexual exploitation.

Prior to the Islamic month of Ramadan, the group approached various radio stations to talk about the issues of grooming to try and tackle the issue, but encountered some issues.

Spokesperson for the group, Ansar Ali, told the Yorkshire Standard: “Most Ramadan stations, which run just for the month, didn’t want to cover the issue of grooming because they felt that the subject matter wasn’t appropriate for Ramadan.

“We got a negative response, and they didn’t show much interest presumably out of nervousness.”

Although online support for the campaign has been mainly positive, some people have been critical.

Mr Ali explained: “Amongst our communities, there’s a fatigue from the Islamophobia and negative media attention to do with terrorism and such, so in that context, people see us bringing more attention to the negativity. But we see part of our role as challenging the myth that perpetrators are mainly from an Asian/Muslim background and try and get across the point that this issue affects society as a whole.

“But it’s not an easy subject to talk about. Anything that involves sex can also be seen as a taboo subject in our community as we’re not good at talking about contentious issues.”

The TAG project launched a year ago, and gained mass media attention after it organised a day on 28 June in which mosques devoted their sermons to talk about the evils of grooming. It was the first of its kind in the country, and helped the TAG project spread its message to thousands.

But more is to be done, as Mr Ali explained: “Perpetrators of grooming come from all backgrounds. We’ve also been increasingly seeing girls of Muslim faith and Asian backgrounds being victims.

“TAG has been at the forefront of tackling this issue, but we want the whole of the community to face up to the issue too.”

About the Author

Hasan Faridi

- Hasan is the founder and editor-in chief of the Yorkshire Standard. A BA Hons graduate from the University of Huddersfield, he has over four years of experience in newspapers, magazines and radio.

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