The Racial Aspects Of Gang Rape
In 1999 I witnessed a gang rape in Sierra Leone. I was forced to watch a group of rebel soldiers taking it in turns to rape a young girl in front of an audience of jeering men. It was the height of the civil conflict and rape had become a devastating weapon of war. When I moved to Britain I believed I had escaped such horrific sexual violence. As my Dispatches investigation tomorrow night shows, I was mistaken. Gang rape is happening here – and what I have found most disturbing as an African is that a disproportionate number of these attacks are being carried out by black or mixed-race young men.
Towards the end of last year, police and child welfare experts working on Channel 4's Street Weapons Commission told us of their concerns about gang rape. Then two big cases hit the headlines.
In December, nine schoolboys, some as young as 13 at the time of the attack, were convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl. She was dragged between tower blocks in Hackney where she was threatened with a knife, hit and raped during an ordeal that lasted an hour and a half – some of which was filmed on mobile phones. In January, three men were convicted of gang raping a 16-year-old with learning disabilities for two hours before dousing her with caustic soda in an effort to get rid of the evidence.
How prevalent is this crime and why it is happening in Britain? Despite the seriousness of the crime, I was amazed to discover that no national statistics exist: gang rape is simply not recorded as a separate crime category. So over a period of several months we set about collating our own.
We approached the Crown Prosecution Service, the Association of Chief Police Officers, all 50 police forces, crown courts, barristers and rape referral centres to try to establish the numbers.