A Cheltenham Borough Councillor and former mayor has said she will not stand for re-election after telling a borough council meeting that “when rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.”
Barbara Driver’s comments, which came during the meeting about plans to build 30,000 homes in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester, prompted outrage on Wednesday and were described as “repulsive” and “atrocious” by Cheltenham Borough Council Peter Jeffries.
The Conservative councillor later apologised for the remark, which compared the "inevitability" of the building of new houses in the area with rape, according the Gloucestershire Echo.
“There is a saying and I am going to say it: When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it,” she told the meeting.
Ms Driver told the BBC she was sorry for the damage the "thoughtless and inappropriate comment" had caused, and "the right thing to do at this stage is to step back from public life".
In an open letter to Cheltenham Borough Council, addressed to the Mayor, Councillor Wendy Flynn, Ms Driver said she realised her remark was “completely inappropriate and thoughtless and should not have been said”.
The letter read: “I am therefore writing an open letter to the council to offer my sincere apologies for the comment I made.
“As an elected member of the council I believe that on this occasion I have fallen short of the high standards expected of a councillor and for that I am deeply sorry and I wish to place my apology on record through this letter.”
Her remark was criticised by Karen Clarke, from the Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (GRASAC), who described it as “quite shocking”.
"Rape has a devastating impact and there's no possibility that anyone could ever lie back and enjoy it,” she told the BBC.
"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."
A Cheltenham Borough Council spokeswoman said 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".