What appears to have been at work is a problematic multiculturalism to which European countries have subscribed too easily. It’s the kind of multiculturalism that is really a form of separatism: you stay in your enclave and we’ll stay in ours; it’s the kind that David Cameron has faulted for failing to offer a vision of a more inclusive British society for young Muslims, and for creating a niche in which extremist ideology can grow.
In Rotherham, it appears to have done something else: blunted effective law enforcement. Under the multiculturalist approach that seems to have informed Rotherham politics, cultures are unified, even monolithic. They have “spokesmen” who represent “the” community and its customs. Police contact with the Pakistani community travelled, according to the Rotherham report, through traditional channels and were “almost exclusively with men.” Child sexual exploitation was, apparently, not a topic that they took up.
Not talking to women meant, among other things, that the police missed an opportunity to connect with people who might tell them about abuse within the Pakistani community. The approach seems to have been based on an assumption of Pakistani insularity—an assumption that cloaked itself, sincerely or strategically, in the garb of cultural sensitivity.