Child Grooming and Sexual Exploitation: Are South Asian Men the UK Media’s New Folk Devils?


In May 2012, nine men from the Rochdale area of Manchester were found guilty of sexually exploiting a number of underage girls. Media reporting on the trial focused on the fact that eight of the men were of Pakistani descent, while all the girls were white. Framing similar cases in Preston, Rotherham, Derby, Shropshire, Oxford, Telford and Middlesbrough as ethnically motivated, the media incited moral panic over South Asian grooming gangs preying on white girls. While these cases shed light on the broader problem of sexual exploitation in Britain, they also reveal continuing misconceptions that stereotype South Asian men as ‘natural’ perpetrators of these crimes due to culturally-specific notions of hegemonic masculinity. Examining newspaper coverage from 2012 to 2013, this article discusses the discourse of the British media’s portrayal of South Asian men as perpetrators of sexual violence against white victims, inadvertently construing ‘South Asian men’ as ‘folk devils’.
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Published: 2015-07-01
Pages:34 to 49
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How to Cite
Gill, A. K. and Harrison, K. (2015) “Child Grooming and Sexual Exploitation: Are South Asian Men the UK Media’s New Folk Devils?”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 4(2), pp. 34-49. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v4i2.214.

Author Biographies

University of Roehampton
 United Kingdom

Dr Aisha K. Gill is a Reader in Criminology at University of Roehampton. Her main areas of interest and research are health and criminal justice responses to violence against black, minority ethnic and refugee women in the UK, Iraqi Kurdistan and India. She has been involved in addressing the problem of violence against women at the grassroots level for the past sixteen years and has published widely in refereed journals such as Current Sociology, Feminist Legal Studies, Feminist Review, Journal of Gender Studies, and Women’s Studies International Forum.

Senior Lecturer in Law