London: The British Asian community is in "denial" about the issue of Pakistani-origin men grooming white girls for sex, a former British official has said.
Former Home Secretary Jack Straw was quoted by the Telegraph as saying that a scandal, exposed by the trial of nine Asian men, jailed for grooming and sexual abuse of white girls, raised a problem which had to be "faced and addressed" within some communities.
Another lawyer said he was preparing a case involving alleged abuse of one girl in seven separate cities.
The alleged abuse follows a similar pattern -- involving grooming rings dominated by men from Pakistani backgrounds, who are often taxi drivers, and who pick up girls and take them to flats for sex with several men.
Straw, whose Blackburn and Darwen constituency in Lancashire has a large Asian population, has angered some sections of the Muslim community in the past by calling for women to remove veils which cover their faces.
Last year, he also warned that white girls are sometimes treated as "easy meat" for some young Asian men who are "fizzing and popping with testosterone" but had no "outlet" within their own community, the Telegraph said.
"There is an issue of ethnicity here which can`t be ignored," he told BBC Radio 4.
"It is true to say that overall if you go into the sex offenders wings of prisons, there are proportionally more white offenders than Asian offenders or black and we have got to deal with that separately."
"But it is also correct that in terms of group grooming there is an ethnic dimension which typically is of Asian men on white girls," he said.
"And that is an issue which has to be faced and addressed within the Asian community about what`s going on there. That kind of leads to a sense of denial by them that all this is going on. These are small communities, so people will have a rough idea that people are abusing white girls in this way," Straw was quoted as saying.
A spokesman for the Network of Sikh Organisations said it was not accurate to describe the grooming rings as an "Asian" problem.
"It is something that the leaders of the Muslim community, the Pakistani community, need to address," he said.