Jess Phillips: Labour MP says mass Cologne sex attacks on women like 'Birmingham every weekend'

The UK must challenge 'patriarchal cultures' but not forget its own record on women, says MP

Labour's Jess Phillips has compared the hundreds of sex attacks on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve to the harassment of women every weekend in Birmingham city centre.

As part of a debate on BBC Question Time about how many refugees should be allowed into the country, the MP for Birmingham Yardley said the UK should not "rest on its laurels" when at least two are murdered every week within its borders.

Ms Phillips said the experiences of women in Cologne on New Year's Eve could be likened to the intimidation faced by women and girls in one of Birmingham's most popular nightspots.

"A very similar situation to what happened in Cologne could be described on Broad Street in Birmingham, every week, where women are baited and heckled," she said.

Multiple sexual assaults were reported on New Year's Eve in Cologne in Germany

Media, police and politicians were widely accused of a "cover up" following reports of assaults against women in the German city by men of "north African or Arabic" origin on New Year's Eve.

Attitudes towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the country have reportedly hardened since, with 62 per cent of Germans now saying the number of asylum seekers in the country is too high, compared to 53 per cent in November, according to YouGov.

Women's rights groups demonstrated in Germany following the attacks, but also said their campaign was being hijacked by far-right, anti-immigration groups such as Pegida, according to The Local.

Ms Phillips, who won her parliamentary seat in the 2015 May election, said that the treatment of women could differ between cultures and must be challenged.

"Now we have to attack what we perceive as patriarchal culture, coming into any culture that isn't patriarchal, and making sure we tell people not to be like that," she said.

Birmingham Broad Street. Rape convictions in the UK dropped in 2014 to 2015.

Yet she pointed out the need for caution in pointing the finger at one group of people when the issue of abuse against women was widespread across UK society.

"But we should be careful in this country before we rest on our laurels when two women are murdered every week in this country," said Ms Phillips.

Violence against women in the UK remains high even while other violent crime rates are dropping, with 1.4 million suffering domestic abuse from 2014 to 2015, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics.

Rape convictions rates also fell last year. Successful convictions for violence against women, however, were at a record high.