Remarks made by a Conservative councillor have been described as “despicable” and “dangerous and stupid”, while women’s support groups and his political opponents have demanded that Shaun Slator should be suspended by his party and resign immediately.
Slator is a Tory councillor in St Mary Cray ward on Conservative-controlled Bromley council. In his “day job”, Slator works as a parliamentary assistant to Jackie Doyle-Price, the Conservative MP for Thurrock.
Slator’s response to the report of a woman being raped in a south London park over the New Year’s weekend was to suggest that the victim was “likely” to be a prostitute.
Responding to a news report headlined, “Woman raped in Plumstead park in early hours”, which included a police comment, Tory Slator wrote, “More likely that it’s a punter that didn’t pay.”
The Liberal Democrats in Bromley have written to Colin Smith, the leader of Conservative-controlled council, insisting that Slator should apologise immediately. Julie Ireland, the leader of Bromley LibDems, wrote, “I trust you will demand an immediate apology from Councillor Slator, suspend him from your party and open an investigation into his behaviour by the [council’s] standards committee.
“This is not the first time Councillor Slator’s comments have caused offence; he has done so in the council chamber.
“The Liberal Democrats in Bromley formally call for Councillor Slator’s resignation. Someone with his views and judgements has no place representing constituents in Bromley. What a terrible message to send to women and girls in his ward and across the borough, that violence against them is likely to be trivialised and the victim condemned rather than the perpetrator.
“All violence against women and girls needs to be condemned unequivocally.”
Bromley’s Labour leader, Simon Jeal, called on the Tories to “publicly and unequivocally condemn his comments”. Party colleagues in Orpington described Slator’s remarks as “vile attitudes”.
When questioned about his conduct by a reporter from the Daily Mirror, Slator was far from apologetic.
“I’m not promoting rape, am I?” the Tory councillor said, seeking to justify his remarks.
“I don’t know that she is or she isn’t [a prostitute]. Do you?”
Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Jess Phillips, said, “These comments are dangerous and stupid.
“Prostituted and exploited women are raped and abused all the time and should be cared for.” Slator, Phillips said, “should educate himself”.
Phillips told the Mirror, “To stigmatise and blame any victim is despicable and it’s the reason why so few rapists ever face justice.
“These attitudes have no place in society and even less so in a representative. The Conservatives shouldn’t allow it in their ranks.”
The newspaper also quoted Women’s Equality Party leader Mandu Reid who said, “The comments made by Shaun Slator are disgraceful and make me so angry. They demonstrate that he is not fit to serve as a councillor and should be removed from his duties immediately.
“To have an elected official publicly dismissing a rape allegation is completely unacceptable and sends a terrible message to the women and girls he is supposed to represent. The scourge of male violence against women in our society will never end whilst attitudes like councillor Slator’s are allowed to prevail.”
The Mirror report included Slator’s comments, at length, to try to justify his remarks, in which he displayed an unusually in-depth knowledge of Plumstead and its sex workers.
Slator told the Mirror, “The area has a huge problem with prostitutes which I have been reporting for years, and the local police and council don’t seem to do anything about it.
“I’ve sent them video evidence of the prostitutes chasing the guys down the road because they’ve not paid, and stuff like that.
“That’s a frequent thing that happens round here – the men don’t pay the prostitutes and then the women say they have been raped.
“There’s also other ones where they get caught in the park, the guy does a runner and then the woman says, ‘Oh, I was getting raped’.”
The Mirror reported: “Asked if it was appropriate for a councillor to suggest an alleged rape victim was a prostitute, he insisted: ‘I said it was a possibility’.
“’I’m not justifying it all. You can put a headline there saying a woman has been raped but when you look behind it there’s a huge problem in the area with prostitutes, with women on drugs, women being abused, women being pimped out.
“’I’ve had a knife pulled on me by a pimp in Plumstead for walking past a prostitute.
“’There’s a huge problem here which the council and police aren’t tackling’.”
Bromley Council is investigating complaints received about Councillor Slator’s conduct.
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