I met some SAS activists at the Havelock Road Singh Sabha in Southall. The activists were handing out leaflets outside the Gurdwara. I refused to accept one of their leaflets in a rather unfriendly manner, which put our conversation on the wrong footing from the start.
I have seen SAS activists in the company of people who are well known to support violence against people who disagree with them and I suspect that SAS members have been involved in such violence, but I cannot prove it.
But even if I am wrong about possible involvement of SAS activists in violent attacks, I still have some very strong reservations about the notions that SAS men/boys have about ‘Sikh girls’ and Muslim men.
Two issues were mentioned during our ‘debate’ outside the Gurdwara. The first one is that ‘illegal’ Sikh girls work as prostitutes for Muslim pimps, the second that Sikh men/boys have to escort their Sikh sisters to protect them against Muslim men/boys.
I do not know anything about prostitutes and pimps in Southall but I am not at all surprised to hear that women arriving in this country without the required visa end up as prostitutes. These are not Sikh women, but they might be of Sikh background.
A true Sikh might be an ‘illegal’ in time of war, persecution or uprising, but most people arriving here these days are just looking for a better life. This is of course legitimate, but trying to settle in a country in a dishonest manner, cannot be justified for a Sikh when you are not a refugee.
I think that the UK and EU immigration laws are trying to prevent globalisation of people movement, while promoting globalisation of goods, which makes no sense at all, and will not work. But if you settle somewhere illegally, it will make you vulnerable to exploitation by employers, and you risk ending up making a living in a thoroughly illegal manner.
This does not mean that we should not offer support to young women of whatever background who get trapped in prostitution. But remember that while nobody should be pressurised into prostitution, equally we cannot force anybody to leave the ‘profession’.
The statement that Sikh girls/young women in Southall need to be escorted begs the question whether we have brought up a generation of young women who are incapable to look after themselves. The young Sikh women I know are usually more clued up and more committed to Guru’s teachings than young Sikh men. Is this an example of Sikh men not respecting their sisters ? In the next column I will explore this issue further.