Sarah Champion’s resignation was right and necessary
Published 16 August 2017
Sarah Champion was right to resign from the post of shadow equalities minister this afternoon because she, like so many politicians, tried to limit the scale of the problem we are dealing with by falsely attributing it to one ethnic group. Child sexual exploitation doesn’t have a ‘type’ – it is overwhelmingly carried out by men against young women of every background and is a manifestation of men’s power over women.
Champion’s focus on child sexual exploitation by British Pakistani men failed entirely to understand that men from all communities commit violence in a society that still looks to blame the victims. And her article in the Sun played to terrible divisions in this country that make women’s inequality even harder to tackle by taking responsibility away from the rest of us.
“Champion’s inflammatory article – in which she said ‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls’ – asked ‘does that make me a racist?’ The answer, resoundingly, is yes,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “Focusing only on the actions of men in specific communities is racist and distracts from prevention and survivor support.”
“What is even more disturbing is Champion’s failure to recognise that the common denominator in all cases of child sexual exploitation is that the perpetrators are men and the victims are overwhelmingly young women. Time and again politicians see violence against women as a women's issue – it is not. It's a men's issue,” Walker added.
“Our senior politicians are failing to confront this reality and engage in finding lasting solutions to violence against women and girls, wherever it occurs. Jeremy Corbyn may have been quick to distance himself from Champion’s article, but he should have been leading the way on this instead of treating it as a side issue.”
“Keeping girls and women safe is not an issue that should be contained in the equalities portfolio. It should be front and centre of everything that we do. Because until we create a more equal society, men will always be able to take advantage of the gender power imbalance to coerce young girls.”