Rape is a heinous crime and it should never be the subject of jokes. Violence against women and girls is a huge issue Lanie Shears
Labour Councillor Lanie Shears, Portfolio Holder for Governance, Equalities and Diversity on Harlow Council and Women’s Officer for Harlow CLP today denounced sexual assault comments made by UKIP’s MEP candidate, Carl Benjamin towards Labour MP, Jess Phillips in the strongest possible terms.
Following his comments, Mr Benjamin was asked at a press conference by a Sky News reporter if he thought it was “OK” to joke about rape to which he replied that it was acceptable to joke about raping women. In fact, his reply was, “Yes. One hundred percent. Deal with it.”.
Response to Mr Benjamin’s comments has been one of overwhelming condemnation and shock and he has been being widely criticised on social media.
However it appears that this vile attitude towards rape is held by other members of UKIP including Mr Ted Hockham who is standing for UKIP in Harlow (Netteswell ward) in the local council elections this May.
On Twitter Mr Hockham tweeted a joke about rape based on the Rick Astley song, “Never gonna give you up”. In Mr Hockham’s version, the chorus concludes with the line, “Never gonna even rape you”.
Councillor Shears said today: “I would like to ask UKIP Harlow to apologise unequivocally for the totally unacceptable comments made by both Mr Benjamin and Mr Hockham which will have offended many, many people.
“Rape is a heinous crime and it should never be the subject of jokes. Violence against women and girls is a huge issue for society and I know there are many people in Harlow who will share my outrage that a member of our community and someone who seeks a leadership role on the Council, sees it as an acceptable subject for a joke.
“To be clear, I do not think that all UKIP supporters share the views expressed by these men, and I hope that they will make their own opinions clear publicly. I also hope that Harlow UKIP will seriously consider Mt Hockham’s suitability to stand for election.
“Harlow is a good town with decent people living here who I am sure will be as appalled by Mr Hockham’s attitude to rape as I am. There is no place for such views on Harlow Council or anywhere in our society. Harlow Labour Party will call out discriminatory and abusive behaviour whenever it rears its ugly head, just as we did with Islamophobia from another local candidate recently”
On May 2nd, you have the chance to send a message that this is unacceptable.