James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Rotherham Abuse Victim Calls James O'Brien Over Grooming Gangs
30 October 2018, 11:51 | Updated: 30 October 2018, 15:28
Katie told James O'Brien about her experience of abuse when growing up in Rotherham - and what she says may surprise you.
Following the conviction of another grooming gang in Rotherham, Katie phoned James to tell him about her experience of growing up in the town.
She revealed she was in the care system and started going to nightclubs at the age of 13. From a young age, her and her friends started sleeping with local white men, aged from their late teens up to the age of 40. When James clarified that legally this would be classed as rape, Katie said that in hindsight she agreed with this.
Katie went on to make the main point she called in for, that "the Muslim community didn't create this, they became organised in how they did it, and I think that's the difference. But it was already happening, just not organised".
Katie continued: "These men are paedophiles, paedophilia has no religion, it has no morals... the real issue was the vulnerability of girls, we didn't really have parenting."
James makes the point that some accusations of racism may be accurate in that the crimes Katie described were not investigated, while those committed by Pakistani and Muslim offenders were.
Katie revealed one particular aspect that bothers her: "Some of the most prolifically vocal people that I see post on Facebook about the grooming gangs, I think - hang on, you were in your twenties you had a girlfriend who was 14 or 15 years old."
She doesn't look at her experiences as abuse, to which James responded: "I can't try to persuade you that you were a victim of a crime, even though statistically and legally you were, because you've made your peace with what happened, I think."
Katie then spoke about how she would be "mortified" if her daughter were to grow up and be doing what she was doing at that age.
She pointed out that, for Rochdale and Rotherham, "when the industries closed down, this is what they became. There was nothing for nobody, parents didn't know how to deal with it", which left children to "fend for themselves".
Katie emphasised that the Rochdale and Rotherham offenders "deserve everything that the law throws at them and there should be heads that roll" but then went on "it feels like there is a bit of a cover up..in the sense that the bigger picture is not being looked at. These men just capitalised on something that was already there. If these girls hadn't been vulnerable, and it hadn't already been normalised, they wouldn't have been able to do what they did".
James theorised that perhaps a girl of Katie's age with her boyfriend in the back of a British Pakistani man's taxi may have given the driver "ideas", with which Katie agreed.
She continued "it was already normalised and they just organised themselves with it, but they're exactly the same as the original people who did it, they're no worse, they're no better".
James chimes in that he disagrees because he finds the gang aspect "repulsive".
Katie went on to say that nobody could have stopped the situation because "I did what I wanted to do because that's what I'd been allowed to do, and there could have been nobody or anybody that could have told me different".
James points out that it's much easier to believe Katie's story than the "ludicrous conspiracy theories" about "real and present crimes".
When James asked how Katie managed to "sort herself out", she revealed that things got worse before they got better, but that she woke up one day and came to the realisation that she didn't want that life. Katie picked herself, got her GCSEs and managed to claw her life back.
"I'm in awe of your mental strength actually, and your emotional literacy," James says. "I can't remember a call which has knocked me quite as sideways as yours".
Katie responds "it's quite scary for me to talk about but I've moved on, that's not me...but every time I see the anger aimed at the Muslim community for this...I just sit here thinking, there's so much more to the picture than people are willing to address", Katie said, "predatory men, that's what they are, and they have no religion".
James told Katie "what I'll take away most from what you've told me is you seeing on Facebook men who were statutory raping young women when you were (young) and are now leading the line on outrage and disgust on brown men doing the same".
Listen to the call in full above.