On November 15th British populist news outlet Politicalite published an article titled: “Opinion: If We Want To Stop Child Abuse, We Need To BAN Immigration From Pakistan.” The piece was authored by Councillor Ryan Macpherson, who is an independent councillor on Ashford Borough Council in Kent. The article focusses on child abuse in Pakistan, mainly of street children, and claims that due to high levels of child abuse in the country, Pakistani’s (mainly men) should not be allowed into the UK. The article has both xenophobic and Islamophobic undertones.
In the first paragraph of the article, the author stated: “nine in ten of the street children in Pakistan had been sexually abused by Pakistani adults as part of a regular and publically known paedophilic culture that has deep roots into the country.” There was a reference hyperlinked to the data mentioned, which was derived from a Channel 4 press release about a documentary called “Pakistan’s Hidden Shame”, which was broadcast in 2014. However, within the press release, it states: “This film focusses on the north-western city of Peshawar, where it is estimated 9 out of every 10 street children have been sexually abused.” Thus, the data actually relates to a specific city in Pakistan, not Pakistan as a whole. Further verification of this data from different sources proved this as well; the data only related to the city of Peshawar.
Therefore, the claim that “nine in ten of the street children in Pakistan had been sexually abused by Pakistani adults” is factually incorrect. Get The Trolls Out! Partner the Media Diversity Institute wrote to Politicalite with a complaint regarding this issue and they responded. The article has been changed to reflect the correct data, and it has also been written up for the website's corrections page.
Through using misleading data, the author was able to paint a very negative picture of Pakistan, and based upon this, make the xenophobic suggestion that all immigration from the country needs to be banned. Of course, the issue of child abuse is a serious and important one, and should be discussed and dealt with accordingly. However, using this issue as a means to propose a ban on a whole population is wrong. The article also refers to Islam several times, linking the religion with the men who are committing these crimes, constructing a clear Islamophobic narrative.