A senior Labour MP has called for male migrants coming from Syria to the UK to receive formal lessons to prevent against sexual assault. She added that British men also need the classes, which would “provide information on how they should interact with women”.
Thangam Debbonaire said the classes could help tackle “issues like female genital mutilation” and prevent sexual harassment against women. Claiming “our indigenous population is not a haven of gender equality”, she said all men in Britain should attend such classes.
Ms. Debbonaire, who has just launched an inquiry into the experiences of new refugees in the UK, said a “refugee integration strategy” would teach migrants to “understand what is expected of them”.
This approach would tackle fears that the migrants could launch mass sexual assaults as happened in Cologne, Ms. Debbonaire suggested, and she condemned the German public’s horror at the attacks.
“What I don’t want is for the British people to respond to a case of assault or sexual harassment by saying no to more refugees, which seemed to be what the public’s response to Germany was in danger of becoming,” the MP said.
The chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees said the government should take a “sensitive” approach when introducing migrants to a different culture. Ms. Debbonaire recommended that the classes could be part of a national drive to improve male attitudes towards women.
“We need to think about how we have those men understand what is expected of them without pretending we ourselves are perfect. It would need to be sensitively worked out and could be part of a nationwide campaign to help men and boys in general to look at gender equality in a different way.
“All men need this education. Our indigenous population is not a haven of gender equality and you could have a situation where boys who have settled, just arrived, or been born here, would all get the same information on how they should interact with women,” the MP for Bristol West told The Telegraph.
Ms. Debbonaire added: “It shouldn’t surprise us if those from cultures, where gender inequality is an extreme struggle, to get here to understand social norms and expectations.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson condemned Nigel Farage for making similar comments in June after he warned women could be at risk of sex attacks from migrants as a result of “big cultural issues”.
In the wake of the “migrant crisis” and a wave of sexual attacks across the continent, various European countries have given migrants classes on how to treat women with respect. Shortly after graduating from one of these programmes, a migrant in Belgium raped a young Red Cross helper who was working at at shelter.
In June, police in Britain were accused of covering up an incident in which four Syrian migrants sexually assaulted two 14-year-old girls. It has emerged that 897 Syrians in Britain were arrested last year, for offences including rape, sexual assault, and child abuse. These statistics are only for England and Wales and, as one third of all recent Syrian migrants are in Scotland, the full extent of the problem is unclear.
Since being elected to parliament last year Thangam Debbonaire has consistently campaigned for Britain to accept more migrants despite the vast majority of the public wanting to see immigration reduced. Only 4 per cent of people think immigration should be increased.
Ms. Debbonaire has called for Britain to take more migrants from camps in the Middle East, take some who are currently in Southern European countries, and send more boats to ferry migrants from Africa. The Bristol West MP has also asked the government to raise the allowance migrants receive.