*LONDON: A major investigation into historical child sexual exploitation in a town in northern England led to the conviction Monday of seven men who targeted teenage girls.*
Members of the gang were convicted of offences including rape, indecent assault and false imprisonment of vulnerable girls in Rotherham.
One of the victims told the trial at Sheffield Crown Court how she had sex with “at least 100” ethnic South Asian men by the time she was 16.
The BBC reported that the convicted men were all of British Pakistani heritage and had abused five girls over a seven-year period.
The case arose from the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, which has identified more than 1,500 victims.
This investigation was set up in the wake of a 2014 report which exposed the scale of abuse in the Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013 and the failure of police and social services to intervene.
The girls who were the victims of the men convicted in this case are now in their 30s, jurors heard during the eight-week trial.
“When they were in their teens, they were targeted, sexualised and, in some instances, subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature at the hands of these men,” said prosecutor Michelle Colborne.
The jury heard how they were supplied with alcohol and drugs before being passed between men in Rotherham.
“The girls were enthralled by older, Asian men, men who had cars and seemed exciting to them,” said Colborne.
“None of them had the maturity to understand that they were being groomed and exploited.”
The convicted men will be sentenced on November 16.
They are Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 37; Nabeel Kurshid, 35; Iqlak Yousaf, 34; Tanweer Ali, 37; Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 39; Asif Ali, 33; and another defendant who cannot be named.
The jury heard another victim recount how she was forced to have an abortion by her parents after she was raped by several men in a forest.
Outside court, NCA investigations manager Robin Pearson said: “They were young girls at the time — children, who were groomed and abused, plied with alcohol, plied with drugs, taken to remote locations and sexually abused by predators.
“The victims were 14, 15, 16 years old at the time and very vulnerable.” - APP/AFP