In line of fire for linking rape with communities
29th January 2010: A Tory MP has set off a race row after accusing a number of ethnic communities of bring in ‘barbaric and medieval’ views about women.
MP for Monmouth David Davies’s comments over a rape by 14-year-old Asian Balal Khan and his call for a probe into the upbringing of the accused evoked sharp disapproval, with critic blaming him for insensitive misunderstanding of the issues.
The MP told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘What is it about this young man’s upbringing… his community or his parental upbringing that led him to think that women are second-class people whose rights can be trampled over like this?
There are some sensitive issues here, but there do seem to be some people in some communities who don’t respect women’s rights at all and who – if I may say, without necessarily saying that this is the case on this occasion – who have imported into this country barbaric and medieval views about women.’
Davies’s comments came soon after Khan admitted beating and raping a 20-year-old woman in front of his two friends. He was sentenced this week to three years because of his age – and also because apologized.
Even as Davies later insisted it was ‘not an Islamic issue’ and `it’s not a racial issue, critics claimed the remarks were ‘dangerous’. Even the Conservative Party said the comments ‘do not reflect the views of the party in any way’.
Reacting to the assertion, Professor Heaven Crawley of the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University said Davies displayed a crass misunderstanding of gender relations and why rape happens. It was added there were plenty of barbaric and backward attitudes among men in all sorts of communities, including white British.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain asserted he was aghast at the inflammatory language and Davies should be “ashamed” of his outburst, while Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott added it was dangerous to suggest certain religions or communities were more prone to raping women because of their attitudes.
The remarks were described as ‘deeply offensive’ by Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation.