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Rotherham child sex abuse: it is our duty to ask difficult questions

Rotherham child sex abuse: it is our duty to ask difficult questions

The outline of what happened in Rotherham is now more or less clear: at least 1,400 children were subjected to brutal sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013; children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities, beaten and intimidated. The perpetrators were (almost exclusively) of Pakistani origin, and their victims were often white schoolgirls.

Reactions were predictable. The left exhibited the worst of political correctness, mostly via generalisations: perpetrators were vaguely designated as “Asians”, claims were made that it was not about ethnicity and religion but about the domination of men over women, plus who are we – with our church paedophilia and Jimmy Savile – to adopt a high moral ground against a victimised minority … can one imagine a more effective way to open up the field to Ukip and other anti-immigrant populists who exploit the worries of ordinary people? Such anti-racism is effectively a barely covert racism, condescendingly treating Pakistanis as morally inferior beings who should not be held to our standards.

One of the terrifying effects of the non-contemporaneity of different levels of social life is the rise of violence against women – not just random violence, but systematic violence, violence that is specific to a certain social context, follows a pattern and transmits a clear message.

The serial killings of women in Ciudad Juarez, for example, are not just private pathologies, but a ritualised activity, part of the subculture of local gangs, and directed at single young women working in factories – a clear case of macho reaction to the new class of independent working women.

[Extract. Appeared in The Guardian, on September 1st, 2014.]

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many books; his latest are Against the Double Blackmail and Disparities. This account is not monitored and is only maintained to give appropriate credit.

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