Labour MP calls for male refugees to be taught how to treat women

refugees huddle together at train station
Alexandre Rotenberg /

Thangam Debbonaire, a Labour MP, has called for all male refugees to be taught how to treat women, in an attempt to prevent sexual assault and harassment in Britain.

Debbonaire, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on refugees, claimed that by teaching male refugees about gender equality would improve attitudes towards women in general.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Debbonaire said, “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 in Germany was in danger of becoming.”

“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 sensitivity worked out and could be part of a nation wide campaign to help men and boys in general to look at gender equality in a different way.”

Continuing she said, “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.”

“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.”

Debbonaire’s comments come after the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne, Germany. Over 1,000 women were reported to have been sexually assaulted by men of African and Arab descent. The attacks prompted protests in the streets by right-wing groups and studies showed public support in Germany for asylum seekers dropped. However, Debbonaire has argued that the lessons would help to alleviate ‘fears’ in the UK that similar attacks to those in Germany would happen.

Debbonaire also believes that the lessons could help refugees adapt to a new way of life; help that get a job; and fully integrate into communities within the UK.

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Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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