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Home | News | Richard Graham: 'Short skirts and high heels risk rape' warning lands male MP in sexism storm

Richard Graham: 'Short skirts and high heels risk rape' warning lands male MP in sexism storm

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By Amanda Perthen

PUBLISHED: 18:54 EST, 26 January 2013 | UPDATED: 08:51 EST, 27 January 2013


Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, pictured, has sparked outrage for saying that women put themselves at risk of rape by dressing provocatively

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, pictured, has sparked outrage for saying that women put themselves at risk of rape by dressing provocatively

A Tory MP has come under fire  for saying that women are putting themselves at risk of rape by wearing short skirts and high heels.

Richard Graham’s comments sparked outrage among women’s groups, who insist that if a woman becomes a victim of rape it is not because of her dress style.

Mr Graham, who in the past likened a night out in his constituency city of Gloucester to ‘decadent Rome’, said: ‘A night out is about having fun without putting yourself at risk.

‘If you are a young woman on her own trying to walk back home through a park early in the morning in a tight, short skirt and high shoes, and there’s a predator  .  .  .  if you are blind drunk wearing those clothes how able are you to get away?

‘Although we have a pretty heavy police presence, life doesn’t give you full protection from a predator all the time. You have got to help look after yourself as well.

‘It’s not about the impact of your clothes on a potential predator in my view – it’s about whether the clothes you’re wearing make it harder to get away from a predator.’

Mr Graham’s comments come just days after actress Joanna Lumley said women should dress demurely to avoid being ‘raped or robbed’.

Speaking at a Marks & Spencer campaign launch last week, Ms Lumley said: ‘Don’t look like trash, don’t get drunk, don’t be sick down your front, don’t break your heels and stagger about in the wrong clothes at midnight. This is bad.

‘I promise it is better to look after yourself properly  .  .  .  don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home because somebody will take advantage of you – either rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head or they’ll rob you.’

But the MP’s comments provoked anger from charities.

The MP's comments have provoked anger among women's groups, who insist that if a woman becomes a victim of rape, if is not because of her dress style

The MP's comments have provoked anger among women's groups, who insist that if a woman becomes a victim of rape, if is not because of her dress style

A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Rape Crisis Centre said rape was the crime, not drunkenness, and that the offence was ‘stimulated by desire for power and to humiliate and degrade’.

The spokeswoman added: ‘It’s got nothing to do with how you are dressed or whether you are drunk.’

The actress Joanna Lumley, pictured, came under fire recently for saying that women should dress demurely to avoid 'being raped or robbed'

The actress Joanna Lumley, pictured, came under fire recently for saying that women should dress demurely to avoid 'being raped or robbed'

Jo Wood, a trustee of Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: ‘These comments have set us back about 100 years.

'It doesn’t matter if you are off your face and lying naked  on a bench – that man takes it upon himself to rape you.

‘This should be about putting the blame back on perpetrators.’

Vivienne Hayes, of the Women’s Resource Centre, added: ‘Such comments frighteningly normalise victim-blaming.

‘They reallocate blame from the perpetrator to the victim.

'The problem is not female vulnerability but  a macho culture which produces the notion of male entitlement – a culture which consistently fails women through disbelief, victim-blaming and failure to investigate.’

Chief Inspector Richard Burge, of Gloucestershire Police, agreed being drunk could put people at risk.

He said: ‘We would appeal to everyone not to drink so much that you don’t know what’s happening.

‘Excessive alcohol can make you vulnerable so stay with friends and if you are with a friend, try to look out for them too.’

The Liberal Democrat MP who sparked outrage for saying ‘the Jews’ had not learned from the murder of six million in the Holocaust apologised last night.

Bradford MP David Ward said he was sorry for any ‘unintended offence’.

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