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Jess Phillips responds to rape comments targeted at her, again: “What do women have to do to end this?”

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Hollie Richardson
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Jess Phillips Labour MP

Political news in 2019 should not have to be about a female MP having to respond to rape comments targeted at her by a fellow male politician. 

As Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley – who is also currently navigating through the Brexit storm – we’re confident in assuming that Jess Phillips is a very busy woman right now.

And yet, the politician has had to take the time to call for action against UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin, who has made rape comments directed at Philips for the second time. She is now questioning if Benjamin should be allowed to run in this month’s European elections following new footage which shows him talking about raping her.

Yes, you read that correctly. He is continuing to casually talk about raping a woman.

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UKIP leader Gerard Batten has been repeatedly questioned about Benjamin’s candidacy, after he shared a tweet in 2016 which read: “I wouldn’t even rape you, @jessphillips.” Just last month, after Sky News reporter Kate McCann challenged Benjamin, he stood by his comments and told McCann to “deal with it”.

Now, in a YouTube video posted by Benjamin, the recording shows him saying that he “might” rape Phillips “with enough pressure”. He said: “There’s been an awful lot of talk about whether I would or wouldn’t rape Jess Phillips. I’ve been in a lot of trouble for my hardline stance of not even raping her. I suppose with enough pressure I might cave. But let’s be honest, nobody’s got that much beer.”

Let’s just take a moment to breathe here.

Phillips has responded to the violent comments in an interview with BuzzFeed News, saying: “I don’t really know what to say, as someone who works still every day with victims of rape the idea that it is funny or a joke to hear someone saying that that if forced they would rape me. There is a childish misunderstanding that rape is about sex rather than power and violence.

“The Electoral Commission should surely have standards about who can and can’t stand for election. If Facebook and Twitter can ban these people for hate speech how is it they are allowed to stand for election?”

She also took to Twitter, sharing the article and writing: “I’m normally pretty tough, I take the slings and arrows I might just be tired but when asked to comment on this I was really upset. What do women have to do to end this shit, I’m so tired of people legitimising this stuff.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Benjamin wrote: “I stand behind David Baddiel’s justification about why any subject can be the subject of a joke. The alternative is a world devoid of humour, the essential tool we use to reduce the horror of events that are beyond our control.”

But does Benjamin really think this is a joke? Because, from our perspective – and that of many, many others’ – it looks like a political candidate is belittling an act of violence that women suffer every day, as a way to target and intimidate a female MP and display some twisted sense of power.

Hopefully this will be addressed appropriately, but it still doesn’t change the fact that this has happened in political news in 2019.

Image: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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