A Daily Mail journalist has faced a backlash after criticising women for coming forward about being sexually harassed.
Speaking on Channel 4 News, Dame Ann Leslie told Krishnan Guru-Murthy that women “can’t have it both ways”.
The long-serving foreign correspondent condemned women who have spoke out in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal as she revealed on the programme that she had been sexually assaulted by late Tory MP Nicholas Fairburn.
The journalist said that the Scottish politician, who died in 1995, put his hand on her crotch when they were both appearing on an episode of BBC Radio 4′s Any Questions.
She said: “However, what I don’t like about what’s going on now is feminists have been trying all the time to say ‘oh my goodness, women must be in power, they must be strong, they will be strong’.
“They seem to spend their time now saying women are traumatised because some some silly old drunk in Parliament put his hand on her knee or anything like that. You can’t have it both ways.
“You can’t say women are strong and empowered and then say they’re scared and they’re going to cry and all that sort of thing.”
Kat Banyard, director of feminist pressure group UK Feminista, countered: “I think it shows how much courage the women and girls reporting sexual harassment have when on countless discussions on national TV and in the media this issue is still trivialised and dismissed, when we know actually sexual harassment is a routine, every day experience for many women and girls.”
Leslie also described recent revelations about sexual harassment which have been emerging from numerous industries, as well as from inside Parliament, as “pattercake, absolutely ridiculous”.
Leslie also claimed that women in the UK believe if they are touched on the arm, they “should scream and say ‘rape coming up’”, to which an astonished Guru-Murthy responded: “They don’t scream and say rape, they say stop treating me like a sexual object.”
Her comments prompted a wave of criticism on social media…
Daily Mail’s Dame Ann Leslie tells @krishgm that women reporting sexual violence are weak. #c4news pic.twitter.com/DRkaZZL5vG
To those who have spoken up and those who have chosen not to- your courage and worth is not defined by anyone else. Many of us are with you. https://t.co/er3garNSVK
November 6, 2017
How dare Dame Ann Leslie say that women reporting sexual violence are weak? They are so brave. They are so so brave. #C4News
Ann Leslie, if you don’t want to report sexual harassment no-one says you must. But women who do want to report should be supported #c4news
Dame Ann Leslie is an ignorant and disrespectful to ALL women and girls assaulted all over the world. https://t.co/zD1ZCoN7oN
Her comments come as Theresa May has apologised to victims of sex harassment in Westminster, admitting that “too many” women have been subject to abuses of power “over too many years”.
The Prime Minister spoke after she, Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders agreed to introduce new safeguards as early as next month to protect Parliamentary and political staff – amid fresh allegations of historic and current sleaze.