|Say My Name: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Iranian-born Camila Batmanghelidjh, known as the “Angel of Peckham” for her work with young people, said the attention given to black boys meant out-of-control girls were getting off the hook.
Her comments were made to a committee of MPs carrying out an inquiry into black people and the criminal justice system.
Furious critics branded the comments “dangerously simplistic”, while others praised her for raising difficult issues.
Batmanghelidjh who runs the Kids Company, a south London project for vulnerable children, believes her remarks have been blown out of all proportion.
She told the committee young men were facing “rejection” from their mothers.
‘I think the mothers are hugely responsible because they’ve created a culture where they can get rid of the adolescent boy, they can get rid of the male partner, they can survive on their own.
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‘Often people think it’s the males who are the culprits. They underestimate the level of rejection and cruelty from the females towards the males.
‘The minute the adolescent boys begin to look slightly like [an adult] male often the mother wants that young male banished from the house.’
Batmanghelidjh is seen as part of David Cameron’s “urban offensive” in the inner cities.
The Tory leaders’ “hug a hoodie” speech bore remarkable similarities to the Kids Company’s use of compassion and empathy to rescue at-risk kids.
But not everyone was impressed with her broadside against black women. Maxine Hurley, a single mother of four children, was dismayed at yet another assault on the community.
She said: ‘It’s far too simplistic to say black women are cruel. We live in a society where black people are constantly under attack so we need to ask: what is society doing to make people behave in a certain way?
‘It’s shifting the blame from the establishment. Nobody is suggesting it’s a rose garden but we need to get to the bottom of these issues instead of just blaming those at the bottom of the ladder.’
Ken Barnes, president of 100 Black Men of London, also gave evidence to MPs and felt that Batmanghelidjh’s remarks about black women had been taken out of context.
‘She might have been passionate but she was making a statement of fact. I deal with black men who say women prevent them from seeing their children.
‘The focus is too much on black men when we have young women who are going off the rails. We need to have a positive debate around issues of gender in our community.’
Rob Neil, from The 1990 Trust, said: 'She's speaking from her experiences, but my experiences are recognising the positive contribution black women have made in my life.
'We have a shared responsibility to present a balanced view so that a few bad experiences are not taken out of context.'
Batmanghelidjh defended her comments about women but said she was not talking about any particular race. ‘I was talking about systemic issues and how we can protect young men.
‘When I referred to women I was drawing on cases of people I have dealt with.’