Hindu and Sikh girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual grooming, especially in areas where young people are gathering such as educational establishments and social establishments.
According to the NSPCC, grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. Children and young people who are groomed can be sexually abused, exploited or trafficked.
For Hindus and Sikhs, there is another dimension of forced conversion to another faith.
The Sikh community has been particularly active in campaigning against grooming. According to the Sikh Awareness Society UK, who has investigated over 200 reports relating to sexual grooming in the UK, most of the incident go unreported. Incidents go unreported as the offenders often lure victims into sexualised relationships and use this against them. The victims then become vulnerable and fear they may bring shame to their family and community by speaking out.
The National Hindu Students Forum outlines the following: -
How it all begins
- Target the victim: offenders will target those girls whom they feel are suitable to be exploited or converted.
- Gaining trust: girls may start to gain trust through attention and gifts given by the offender, which start to make them feel special.
- Isolation: offenders will continue to draw the girls in more deeply until they are isolated from friends and family.
- Sexualising the relationship: offenders will start to take advantage by threats and blackmail unless their demands are fulfilled, and thus start to gain control.
- In modern times, the use of social media has become a potent tool to lure and groom young girls. This includes connecting with vulnerable young people on social media to now the unprecedented use of sexual images and threats to inform the family if the girl does not conform to the demands of the perpetrators.
It is important that we are familiar with the signs of grooming. Knowing these little signs could help save many victims who have been suffering silently for many years and feel completely helpless. Signs may include going missing from home, school, college, university or staying out late at night on a regular basis; a change in behaviour – quiet or withdrawn, aggressive and disruptive; receiving unexplained gifts – watches, money, clothes; involvement in criminal activities and changes in physical appearance.
How to stay safe
Alcohol and drugs are most commonly used in grooming by offenders. It is very important when at university and on nights out to always remain aware of your surroundings. Never leave your drink unattended, as it is can very easily be spiked without you knowing. Always stick with your friends and make sure they are aware of where you are if you do decide to leave and avoid going home alone.
For support or advice, you can get in touch with National Hindu Welfare Support.
Their confidential helpline can be reached at 020 7341 6279, or you can email.
Although it is a very difficult subject, anyone in difficulty should also try to speak to their family members and the police.