Former mayor, Barbara Driver, is under fire after she made the comment, "when rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it,” during a council meeting.
Driver, 77, offered the statement to describe how “powerless planners are to control a housing development,” reports the Mirror.
Colleagues, constituents, and sex abuse charities were angered by her word usage and she is now being called to resign from the Cheltenham Borough Council.
Driver has apologized, but she does not intend to step down.
"Unfortunately it was wrong what I said. By no way do I condone rape - it is atrocious,” Driver said. "I was trying to put across - badly I will say - the fact of developers having not put much social and affordable housing in and the council saying we can't do anything about it. But I used a term that I had heard years ago without thinking. It was totally dreadful. it was done without thinking about the rape bit. I know that sounds silly."
Liberal Democrats have weighed in on the remark by Driver to The Telegraph.
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"I think she let herself down and she let the council down,” Peter Jeffries, lead member for safeguarding, said. “It was an atrocious thing to say in the middle of a meeting about housing."
"It is not something I would expect to hear from an experienced councillor in a public meeting that was extremely well attended, particularly from Barbara Driver who championed and lead the sexual exploitation working group,” said Liberal Democrat councillor Rowena Hay. "I think the most shocking thing for me is that it trivialises those people who have been through rape and the crisis that causes in those people's lives. Barbara is an extremely hard working councillor and I would never take that away from her. Trying to get victims of domestic violence and rape taken seriously has taken years. To have somebody diminish that is just beyond belief."
Driver has received criticism from Karen Clarke of the Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.
"Making these comments, that have nothing to do with what she was talking about, is quite shocking,” Clarke said. “Rape has a devastating impact and there's no possibility that anyone could ever lie back and enjoy it. When people in positions of power make throw away and flippant comments like this it perpetuates the myths around rape. Someone in a position of authority should know better. Apologies are not enough."
There have been three official complaints made against Driver and the council’s monitoring officer, consulting with two independent advisors, will decide what action should be taken against Driver.
"The council has taken the matter seriously, as has Councillor Driver, and a full and sincerely apology has been issued to the mayor and copied to all councillors,” said a Cheltenham Borough Council spokeswoman.