Sexual grooming has become a very common issue over the last couple of years. A high occurrence was found amongst Hindu girls as they left home for university. Therefore, it is important that we ourselves, as well as these girls, have a full understanding of this and are able to tackle and help overcome these issues.
Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with someone to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, leading to conversion to another faith. Many victims who are young have no understanding of what grooming is, or that they are being sexually abused.
The Sikh Awareness Society UK has investigated over 200 reports relating to child sexual grooming in the UK. There are, however, no official statistics as it was found that a lot of young victims do not report these incidents. 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.
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.
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home, school, college, university or staying out late at night on a regular basis; a change in behaviour – quiet or withdrawn, aggressive and disruptive; receiving unexplained gifts – watches, money, clothes; involvement in criminal activities and changes in physical appearance.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 email@example.com.
— Neelam Chhabhadiya, Events Team Member