The Labour MP, who suggested mass attacks similar to those reported in Cologne happen “every week” in Birmingham, has demanded men across all cultures eschew sexual assault.
Jess Phillips, who was forced to defend her claim that the Germany attacks were similar to women “baited and heckled” on “Broad Street,” spoke to Channel 4 News on Thursday, offering a strong message against violence. “What I would like to say to the men and boys of the world is don’t rape and sexually assault women,” she told Cathy Newman.
Phillips, the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley, also spoke about her claim that she had been sexually assaulted as a young woman. Earlier this month, the MP told a commons debate that as a 19-year-old she had be pinned up against a wall in a bar by a man who put his hand up her skirt.
“Like every woman who grows up anywhere in the world, in fact not just in the UK, I think we could all tell a story about a time when somebody has groped us or molested us,” she told the broadcaster.
Phillips said that incident was “one of many" in her younger years that she could have spoken about. “There’s no way I would have ever have told the police,” she added. “I didn’t have the person’s name. Probably there was no CCTV. I knew without having all the experience I have now, I inanely knew as a 19-year-old woman, there was no point bothering to tell anybody.”
The MP revealed that by 19 she had “come to expect being touched up, having your boobs felt, and your arse felt when you’re walking around.”
“That happens all the time anyway.”
“We get used to it," she added. "Throughout my childhood there has been lots of incidents where men have pulled up in cars, asked me to get in, masturbated in front of me.” Phillips said she doesn’t feel like a victim and that she has carried on “perfectly well,” but added that women have to “stop shrugging it off.”
“We’ve got to start reporting it. And we will never start reporting it until we are believed when we actually report it.”
After her appearance on Question Time, West Midlands Police said that the Cologne attacks were a "million miles away" from scenes in Birmingham centre, adding that Birmingham is a "safe, positive and vibrant place."