Members of a notorious gang who abused young girls in Rotherham, England were sentenced to a combined 102 years behind bars Friday. BBC reports the three brothers behind the sex-trafficking ring will now serve decades in prison:
Arshid Hussain, 40, was jailed for 35 years while siblings Basharat, 39, and Bannaras, 36, were jailed for 25 and 19 years respectively.
Their uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, who was found guilty of conspiracy to rape, was jailed for 10 years.
Associate Karen MacGregor, 59, was jailed for 13 years and Shelley Davies, 40, given an 18 month suspended term.
Arshid and Basharat Hussain were found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court of 38 offences, including rape, indecent assault, abduction, false imprisonment and making threats to kill.
One of the gang’s victims, who was abused from the age of 14 onward, said of the sentences, “He took my life away so now I feel like I’ve taken his.”
A 2014 report on sexual abuse in Rotherham found that as many as 1,400 young girls had been abused between 1997 and 2013. The report chronicles examples of the absolute fear and destruction of young lives that took place in the city while the police did next to nothing:
Child B (2001) was referred to Risky Business by her school when she was 15 years old. By that time, she had been groomed by an older man involved in the exploitation of other children. Child B loved this man and believed he loved her. He trafficked her to Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield and offered to provide her with a flat in one of those cities…Within just a few months, Child B and her family were living in fear of their lives. The windows in their house were put in. She and her family received threats that she would be forced into prostitution. Child B was assaulted by other victims at the instigation of the perpetrator. An attack on her older sibling by associates of the perpetrator resulted in him being hospitalised with serious injuries. Child B also required hospital treatment for injuries she sustained. A younger child in the family was threatened and had to go into hiding so that the perpetrators could not carry out threats against her. Child B and her mother refused to have anything more to do with the Police, because they believed the Police could do nothing to protect them. Child B had been stalked and had petrol poured over her and was threatened with being set alight. She took overdoses. She and her family were too terrified to make statements to the Police. By the time Child B was 18, her family situation had broken down and she was homeless.
The Daily Mail, in reporting on the sentences today, notes one example of how the perpetrators in Rotherham seemed to operate with impunity even when face to face with police:
Bannaras, 36, abused the victim in a car park next to Rotherham Police Station. The prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC said: ‘(The girl) performed oral sex on Bannaras Hussain.
‘When, shortly afterwards, a police car pulled up alongside them and asked what was going on, Bannaras Hussain shouted “she’s just sucking my c***, mate”.
‘The police car drove off. He was indifferent to whether she consented or not.’
According to the 2014 report, one reason police utterly failed to protect so many young girls was the “politically inconvenient truth” that most the victims in Rotherham were white while most of the perpetrators were Pakistani men:
Several people interviewed expressed the general view that ethnic considerations had influenced the policy response of the Council and the Police, rather than in individual cases. One example was given by the Risky Business project Manager (1997- 2012) who reported that she was told not to refer to the ethnic origins of perpetrators when carrying out training. Other staff in children’s social care said that when writing reports on CSE cases, they were advised by their managers to be cautious about referring to the ethnicity of the perpetrators.
Several councillors interviewed believed that by opening up these issues they could be ‘giving oxygen’ to racist perspectives that might in turn attract extremist political groups and threaten community cohesion. To some extent this concern was valid, with the apparent targeting of the town by groups such as the English Defence League. The Deputy Council Leader (2011-2014) from the Pakistani-heritage community was clear that he had not understood the scale of the CSE problem in Rotherham until 2013. He then disagreed with colleague elected members on the way to approach it. He had advocated taking the issue ‘head on’ but had been overruled. He was one of the elected members who said they thought the criminal convictions in 2010 were ‘a one-off, isolated case’, and not an example of a more deep-rooted problem of Pakistani-heritage perpetrators targeting young white girls. This was at best naïve, and at worst ignoring a politically inconvenient truth.
The sentences announced Friday are the first since the 2014 report was published.