Monday, 1 July 2013


Suleman Nagdi has written the First Person column in today's Leicester Mercury:

We must avoid stereotypes and raise awareness
A root and branch review of how we tackle child abuse is needed, says Suleman Nagdi
It is tragic that in this modern society, which promotes the rights of so many individuals, groups and communities, we have collectively failed to protect the rights of innocent and vulnerable children from such sadistic individuals representing a mindless minority, which has carried out the most despicable and abhorrent of acts against these youngsters.
Child abuse in all its guises has no place in this society.
The physical, mental and psychological abuse of children is totally abhorrent and must be condemned whenever and wherever it occurs.
All communities, irrespective of faith, hold dear the value of children as a great blessing which must always be protected.
Any individual or group that commits any act of abuse against children must be condemned and brought to justice under the full weight of the law.
In our commitment to eradicate child abuse we must strive to avoid the sweeping generalisations and stereotyping that can become apparent in attributing culpability to one community or another as being synonymous with the perpetrators of exploitation and abuse.
We have seen a number of cases recently where television personalities and media presenters have been convicted of abuse and exploitation as a result of the trust placed in these individuals by the general public, highlighting the notion that this is not a crime that is unique to one group or community.
We must also recognise there are individuals in society who are shaped by a range of social and psychological factors affecting their personality which causes these individuals to commit mindless criminal acts, including the abuse of children.
While these individuals must be brought to justice we must avoid associating their actions with certain religions, faiths and communities. Such an approach is counter productive and ignores the significant work done by the vast majority to promote the safeguarding of children.
The responsibility of tackling child exploitation and abuse does not lie with one group, or one public body or one institution.
This is a problem that affects every community therefore we need to work together to rid society of this evil. We need to raise awareness of this in our schools so our children do not feel they cannot speak about this.
As parents, we have a fundamental role in protecting our children but we must also be mindful of other vulnerable children who may not have the same protection.
We must work with the authorities and police so these crimes can be better reported and the rightful actions are taken. Our faith and non-faith institutions have a role to play so that this issue is discussed and debated openly and a consensus on tackling this problem is agreed. Ultimately, there needs to be a root-and-branch review of how we as a society should tackle and eradicate this heinous crime.
Suleman Nagdi is chairman of Leicestershire Faith Forum

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