Racists and fascists are launching attacks against refugees under the guise of “protecting our women and children”. But the far right are no champions for women. They focus solely on sexual violence committed by refugees and migrants to spread their hatred.
It’s not about defending victims, because they are happy to ignore the thousands of other women and girls who are attacked and abused daily by white men. Organisers of the riot outside a refugee hotel in Knowsley earlier this month circulated footage of a man they claimed was a refugee from the hotel harassing a 15-year-old girl.
Fascists and racists posing as “concerned locals” are spreading the same narrative and have now called anti-refugee protests in a string of towns and cities. In Dover fascists tried to drum up hate after four 15-year old boys were arrested in connection with an alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl.
Protesters claim to “defend women and children” only to mask their racist intentions. The racialisation of sexual abuse isn’t a new phenomenon. Black people have long been painted by racists as a “danger” to white women and children.
And in recent years, the far right has racialised grooming gangs by associating them with Asian men. In Germany the racist Alternative for Germany (AfD) used claims of sexual violence against women to drum up hate towards refugees.
Tens of thousands of racists and Nazis in Germany then felt much more confident to mobilise on the streets. Now this same tactic is being used as a weapon in the fight, led by the Tories, against refugees. Racists say that black, brown and any non-white person are not compatible with white society in Britain.
They declare these people are a threat because they’re “outsiders” and that non-white cultures are uniquely backward and breed abuse, especially against women. This is linked to more general racism.
Behaviours and tropes are racialised in society to assert that non-white people act in certain ways because they’re not “civilised”. The far right and the media pump out these lies about refugees to say they are a danger to those that were born here.
But in reality, racialising rape and sexual abuse doesn’t stop attacks from happening or defend victims. It masks who else is behind them.
Victims whose perpetrators aren’t useful scapegoats are still blamed, ignored and not taken seriously by the system. In fact the same is true for victims whose perpetrators are useful scapegoats. Working class women and girls are still sidelined when they come forward. Meanwhile racists and fascists exploit the trauma of the people they claim to be defending.
They sometimes commented on the negligence of local councils, social services and several police forces—who ranged from ignoring the abuse to taking part in it.
But they didn’t do this because of the cops’ negligence and institutional failings. Instead they claimed these bodies deliberately ignored the abuse for fear of being called racist. And that the cops refused to acknowledge there was something inherently wrong with the perpetrators’ culture.
Their goal wasn’t justice. It was to ramp up racism and stoke up hatred. The solution for those fighting against them isn’t to deny abuse happens. Oppressed people can and do take part in awful acts.
There is no automatic unity of oppressed people. Suffering racism doesn’t stop someone from being sexist—and the same is true the other way around. But socialists must expose the hypocrisy and prejudice of the dangerous far right that only care about abuse if they can scapegoat refugees or black and Asian people.
Keir Starmer's Thatcher praising speech
Historian John Newsinger writes