Rape and the rod

Darcus Howe, commenting on the revelation that Caribbean rapists outnumber any other ethnic group, insists that "there is nothing to discuss" (25 June). Wrong. We need to look at causes. My own conjecture, based on anecdotal and demographic evidence, is that a substantial number of those rapists would have been raised by a lone mother unsparing with the rod.

There is a known causal link between aberrant behaviour and the childhood experience of corporal punishment. Yet I have heard the anti-smacking lobby accused of cultural insensitivity. That slur erroneously assumes child maltreatment is confined to ethnic minorities, and subordinates the child's needs to a misguided political correctness. Given the statistics on child-beating, we cannot afford to tiptoe around the issue.

Vera Lustig
Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

I will join Darcus Howe and anyone else in his anti-sexist bunker, if only because of the exceptional brutality and irresponsibility of Caribbean males in relationships with women.

It is, above all, the primitive and automatic collusion among Caribbean males in maintaining this practice, and smothering all public debate on it, that makes for our resounding social failure as a migrant community in the UK.

In the face of racism, who needs this weakness at the heart of our families?

Garry Burton
London N18

This article first appeared in the 02 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Best of young British