Far Right Racism and Gang Abuse

By Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale.

Three years ago we posted an article about gang abuse of young women in Oxford. This article is of national relevance now, because the fascist and hard racist right is making hay with campaigns against Asian and Muslim abusers. Two weeks ago 15,000 people marched in central London calling for freedom for Tommy Robinson. There were 500 anti-racist counter-marchers. Things are getting serious.

Tommy Robinson was sentenced to thirteen months in jail for contempt of court. Twice, once in Kent and once in Yorkshire, he had broadcast footage on social media of men accused of gang abuse of young women going into court. His intent was to target those men, influence the juries, and to stoke up racial hatred on sexual grounds. He also wanted to get himself sent to prison as a martyr for the white race. This would enable him to build a campaign and restore his tarnished position as the leader of the hard racist right in Britain. He succeeded.

The march in London was large, angry, confident, and fought with the police. Geert Wilders, the Dutch fascist MP, spoke at the rally. Steve Bannon sent a message of support. The organising of the Football Lads Alliance in Britain is matched by the new Hooligans against Salafism group in Germany. At a more mainstream level, the public and demonstrative persecution of immigrants is mounting in Italy, Australia, the United States and Hungary.

It is a matter of urgency to build a response on the streets of Britain to future mobilisations of this sort. In doing so, we should be aware it is not just Robinson who is campaigning around sexual abuse from the right. Fascist websites are full of it, and Robinson has pinpointed that the tactic works for them like nothing else.

But there is a weakness in the response of most anti-racists to the protests around Robinson. They say nothing about the gang abuse he is targeting. They are silent, we think, because they don’t know what to say. This leaves the field open for people to assume that what he is saying is right.

We do know what to say. The post below is about gang abuse of young women by seven men in Oxford. In microcosm, the story contains all the elements seen since around the country. Our argument has two strands. One is that many different kinds of sexual abuse have been covered up by senior managers and the criminal justice system around the UK.  Under enormous pressure, the authorities have moved to prosecute some men, but almost all of them have been entertainers or actors. None of the managers who covered up their abuse have been prosecuted, or even disciplined. Dead politicians have been exposed, but not living ones. The national inquiry into historical abuse seems to be turning into a sick joke. The Metoo movement, which has done so much in the United States, has achieved very little in Britain. The sexual exploitation of young women by gangs of Asian men in several cities has to be put into this context. Those men are not foreign, or of  a different culture. They are doing what so many other British men have done.

The second strand of our argument is that when abuse is revealed, it is always because ordinary people have organised collectively from below to force the authorities to stop covering up. Continue reading

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Covering up abuse – We are all gymnasts

 

Rachel Denhollander at the trial of Larry Nasser

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write: In the wake of metoo, collective movements are now exposing cover-ups from the top. The target is no longer just one individual, a Strauss-Kahn, a Bill Clinton or a Clarence Thomas. These movements are shouting: it’s a whole system. The class inequalities that protect abuse are being exposed. This is cause for joy, and hope.

The Larry Nasser case provides a brutal example. At Nasser’s trial last month more than 160 survivors of abuse testified about what he had done to them. Nasser was a doctor for the athletics department at Michigan State University, and for the United States national Olympic team in gymnastics. The stories the survivors told were moving, and horrific. Nasser abused thousands of girls, some as young as six, by fingering them vaginally and anally for his own pleasure, over a period of more than twenty years.

Nasser was only able to do what he did because dozens of people  covered up for him. This fits with what we have seen in the many cases the Metoo movement has begun to expose. Only a minority of men abuse. Most men do not do those things. But the men who do it, do it over and over again, so almost every woman suffers. Continue reading

The Five Chinese Feminists

Chinese feminists protesting against domestic violence in blood spattered bridal gowns

Chinese feminists protesting against domestic violence in blood spattered bridal gowns

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write:  Five Chinese feminists have been arrested for planning to protest against sexual harassment. They face five to ten years in jail. This post explains the background to the case, and suggests ways that other activists around the world can show solidarity.

Continue reading

Gang abuse in Oxford

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

Last year seven men from Oxford were convicted in court on multiple counts of rape and abuse of young women and girls. They were part of a criminal gang that prostituted the girls for money. They concentrated on needy and vulnerable girls. The rapes usually began when the girls were between eleven and fifteen. The recent official report estimates, conservatively, that a total of 370 girls in Oxfordshire have been abused by gangs since 2005.

All seven of the men convicted were Asian. Six of the survivors testified. The fascist English Defence League has called a national demonstration in Oxford on April 4. They say that the council and the police did nothing because they were protecting Asians.

Unite Against Fascism and the local trades council have called for a mobilisation against the EDL on the same day, to prevent them from using the suffering of Oxfordshire children for their own ends. They are right to do so.

However, we need more than that. The local Labour MP, Andrew Smith, has called for an official inquiry to investigate how abuse on this scale was allowed to happen. He too is right.

But we also have to face the question of who is to blame for allowing the abuse to continue. In this blog we confront the racist arguments about abuse head on. In doing so, we have to say who is to blame for allowing the abuse to continue: the senior managers in the schools, the social services and the police.

Continue reading

Gendering Abu Ghraib

abu-ghraibNancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale argue that to understand ISIS, you have to understand Abu Ghraib. And if you want to understand Abu Ghraib, you have to look through the lens of gender.

In the spring of 2004, a few dozen photos were leaked to the media showing American soldiers abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. One photo, of a hooded man, has become iconic. All the photos were shocking, and there was an outcry. Eight American prison guards were court martialled for mistreating prisoners. The highest ranking defendant was a corporal. Three of them were women. Seven of the eight were sentenced to prison. No officer, no sergeant, no interrogator, and no CIA agent was punished.

abu-ghraib

The sociologist Ryan Ashley Caldwell worked as a research assistant to an expert witness for the defense at the court martial of Sabrina Harman. Caldwell’s Fallgirls: Gender and the Framing of Torture at Abu Ghraib is a harrowing and important book.[1] Caldwell takes much the same approach to gender that we have on this blog. She does not start by looking at women, or men, or LGBT people. Instead, Caldwell looks at gender as an aspect of all social relations. She asks question after question about knitting, makeup, tattoos, lovers, homosexuality, underwear, women prisoners, toilets, women officers, masturbation, skin, writing, phone calls, who holds the leash, who takes the pictures and who becomes the scapegoat.

The answers to her questions about gender tell us much we could find out in no other way. They shine light into hidden horror. They tell us something important about the US military, and something important about ISIS. Continue reading