The BBC has made a drama about girls affected by Muslim rape gangs – with no mention of Islam in press releases or the trailer, the writer claiming “there was no religious basis for this”. Three Girls airs on BBC1 on Tuesday, May 16, for three consecutive nights and tells the story of three vulnerable girls who were plied with drink sexually abused by a gang of Pakistani and Afghani origin Muslims in Rochdale for up to four years. The case resulted in the 2012 conviction of the nine men for serious sexual offences, including rape and human trafficking, inflicted on girls as young as 13.
“The drama will look at the way in which these girls were groomed, how they were ignored by the authorities directly responsible for protecting them, and how they eventually made themselves heard,” the BBC explained in a statement.
Shabir Ahmed, the ringleader of a group of men who preyed on girls, was jailed for 22 years after being convicted of a string of offences including rape in 2012. Four members of the grooming gang – including ringleader Ahmed – now face deportation to Pakistan.The other three are Adil Khan, Qari Abdul Rauf and Abdul Aziz. Khan, Rauf and Aziz were convicted of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation charges.
In December 2013 a further five men were jailed after an investigation into the sexual abuse of a girl was reopened following the exposure of police failings. The victim told police in 2008 Freddie Kendakumana raped her but he was not charged until October 2012. In 2015 three men were sentenced for a string of child sexual offences that took place in Rochdale. Two girls aged 13 and 15 and a 13-year-old boy were groomed by the three men.
Police identified and interviewed 47 young girls who were potential victims of the gang in 2012. It led to police forces across the country changing the way that they deal with missing people. The Times first revealed the issue of Asian sex gangs targeting girls after an investigation in Rotherham.
It led to an inquiry which found that at least 1,400 children had been exploited in that town. A report by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board painted a picture of girls as young as 10 being targeted for sexual abuse. Twelve council workers came under investigation for failures in relation to the case, and both the police and Crown Prosecution Service were forced to apologise for missing a chance to stop the gang in 2008.
The probe was eventually resumed and the gang was jailed in 2012, prompting police, Crown prosecutors and Rochdale Council to apologise for their failings.The gang’s ringleader Shabir Ahmed was jailed for 19 years after being found guilty of a string of child sex offences.
Speaking to The Guardian, the series writer Nicole Taylor, insisted: “There was no religious basis for this, but a wider discussion about why this was, and is, a distinct pattern would be welcome.”
She said she “didn’t want to give these people [the English Defence League] an opportunity”, by telling the story, adding: “But that’s not a reason to do the drama.”
However, sentencing the men at the time, Judge Gerald Clifton bluntly disagreed, clearly stating that religion was a factor in the case and part of what motivated the men to treat the girls as they did.
He said the men treated the girls “as though they were worthless and beyond respect”.
“One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion.”
The BBC insisted they had done extensive research and worked with victims to tell the true story as accurately as possible.
Charlotte Moore, the Controller of BBC TV Channels and iPlayer, commented: “BBC One has the ability to tell challenging and timely stories of national significance.
“The team behind the award-winning Five Daughters have spent three years talking to the girls, unravelling the shocking scale of abuse, the horror of what they’ve been through and the enormous courage it’s taken for them to speak out.”
The drama has been made with the full support of the victims and their families.