Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Row over MP's rape case comments

David Davies MP
David Davies's comments have been criticised as 'dangerous'

A Conservative MP's comments suggesting a possible link between "imported" views and rape have been criticised.

Monmouth MP David Davies said the upbringing should be investigated of Balal Khan, 14, of Stoke-on-Trent, who raped and robbed a woman.

Politicians in other parties and an academic attacked the MP's comments, although he stressed that they were not related to Islamic or racial issues.

The Tory party said his comments did not reflect its views "in any way".

After Khan admitted the offences and was sent to a young offenders institution for three years, Mr Davies said some communities had "imported backward, medieval and barbaric" views about women.

There do seem to be some people in some communities who don't respect women's rights at all, and who... without necessarily saying that this is the case on this occasion, who have imported into this country barbaric and medieval views about women
David Davies MP, Monmouth

The MP said the sentence was inadequate, adding: "I think there is a wider question here - what is it about this young man's upbringing, what about 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?"

The Monmouth MP added: "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, and that is something that needs to be addressed."

Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University, told BBC Radio Wales: "I think it's very dangerous for a politician to make that kind of connection between rape and clearly totally unacceptable behaviour and the use of the words 'imported, backward and barbaric attitudes' because of the implication that comes with that."

Dr Crawley said the comments displayed "a crass misunderstanding of gender relations and why rape happens".

She said there were "plenty of barbaric and backward" attitudes amongst men in all sorts of communities, including white British.

She added that linking rape and backward attitudes with migrant communities could potentially cause problems and demonstrated a lack of political leadership.

Mr Davies said he wanted to be clear that what he was raising was "not an Islamic issue... let me be quite clear, and it's not a racial issue."

A Conservative Party spokesman said of Mr Davies: "These comments do not reflect the views of the party in any way."

Saleem Kidwai of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association said he believed anyone "with a bit of common sense" could see what the MP was implying.

Mr Kidwai said: "He's covering himself, you know, by saying that, oh, he's not referring to any ethnic community... it's obvious! Who is 'imported'?"

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said, "I am appalled at this Conservative MP's indiscriminate attack on whole communities in our tolerant society.

"This sort of inflammatory language from a leading Welsh Tory does nothing to help hardworking people in difficult times. We are trying to get along together the best we can - David Davies should be ashamed of himself."

Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central said: "To make the suggestion that certain religions or communities are more prone to raping women because of their attitudes is very dangerous and I am disappointed that a Member of Parliament would make that connection with seemingly little evidence to back it up."

Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member Nerys Evans said violence against women knew no racial, religious or class boundaries.

She said the comments "do nothing to help the cause of victims of violence against women and serve only to reinforce racist stereotypes. These are incredibly irresponsible and inflammatory comments."



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