Sputnik discussed this with Deepa Singh, a senior volunteer at Sikh Youth UK and a member of the Sikh Meditation and Rehabilitation charity team.
Sputnik: In your view, why have these incidents been ignored by law enforcement in the UK for so many decades now?
Deepa Singh: The lack of understanding of cultural issues; if you look at the Rotherham report and Rochdale, they were historic cases that were brought up far later. Sometimes it's the lack of knowledge, of knowing the Sikh community and how the Sikh community are facing these challenges. So, that's what we've been trying to do as a team is highlight the historical issue, along with the present day one, and present it in a professional manner, in the right context and language.
Sputnik: Why do you think that the cultural difference is the crux of the problem here? What can be done to change it?
If we don't know and highlight what the issues are and who the perpetrators are, and their characteristics, then we can't actually make a difference with the actual issue. To highlight after decades, the Sikh community have openly condemned this issue from day one and we can historically say that, because when we did take this to the authorities in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, then it was brushed under the carpet, just like the Rotherham and Rochdale [cases] were.
This isn't me condoning the vigilantism; it happened, it's in the past, that's why we can release this report and say that historically, we did try to challenge the system professionally, legally it was failed, then the Sikhs had to try and defend their own families and they were convicted for this.
Sputnik: Do you think that there is anywhere or any way that political correctness has been involved with that, notwithstanding your statement about cultural differences; do you think there's been a weakness in the political system? This is what the papers are saying, this is what the discussion groups from the Caucasian side of the culture in the UK are all talking about.
Deepa Singh: Of course it is; there is political correctness. We need to address that, and these [issues] have been ignored, not just by the police, but by the councils, the authorities, the educational departments, everywhere. Where we need to challenge we have to be correct, politically, we have to explain that because of the political correctness, this has let down decades of Sikh voices, especially our females, over the years.
Sputnik: As of this summer, we've been hearing more and more of these incidents. Do you think it's likely that the British authorities will actually do a deep, embedded investigation into them? You're talking about lessons being learned and how we can, as a society, get better from these lessons so that this kind of behaviour never happens again. But this kind of events are being repeated, why is that?
Deepa Singh: Obviously the political correctness and bringing the issue to the forefront, like today in the media, was very important. But as you can see from this report, this is just an initial study. We put one of our volunteers for 6 months onto this, and that's why it's so important that the time, effort and dedication goes into it, so we can highlight it publicly, just like today, just like yourselves on your show.
You put it out there, which highlights that this is not just racism against young white girls, it's also about Sikh girls. So the study needs more depth, needs effort, but we've done an initial study to show that there needs to be more effort and direction in this, and this has to come from the government. We can't just do this alone, we need support so we get to the matter, so people do stop doing these hideous crimes against people from other communities.
Sputnik: What needs to be done to ensure that law enforcement agencies and local authorities work together closely in addressing these problem moving forward? The major issue here is with the government not actually being stronger, or disciplined, or bringing into practice approaches to actually make sure that these kinds of events are eradicated at the grassroots, at the very root of the cause.
It is so important that when they're recording these crimes, they can put that racial and religious element in there, it could up a sentence; a religiously or racially aggravated [crime] could up the sentence another 2, to 4 or 6 years, if they were recording the crimes appropriately. It comes down to recording it on the racial and religious element, and I believe they need to do more on that.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Deepa Singh and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.