MEMBERS of the Asian community have hit back at Andrew Stephenson’s claims that Asian women don’t know who they are voting for.

Coun Mohammed Iqbal, Labour leader on Pendle Council, said: “If he is saying that South Asian women don’t understand the voting system and don’t have their own mind then I take great offence to that, South Asian women are very democratically engaged.

“They sign the postal vote forms and it is their right to vote, and they do vote for themselves. I don’t think there is such a thing as male pressure, certainly not in Pendle.”

Lib Dem councillor and last year’s mayor, Coun Nadeem Ahmed, said: “I don’t think it is correct to say women don’t know who they are voting for, in my experience they certainly do.

“Gone are the days when that was the case.

Particularly in this election I have seen more Asian women than ever before becoming more active.

“My experience is totally different to that of Andrew Stephenson. I think people do know who they are voting for, they are independently minded, especially the younger people in the household, and they vote for who they want to vote for.”

Anjum Anwar, chair of the Woman’s Voice group, an East Lancashire voluntary organisation providing information for women, said: “I am sure it does happen in some cases, although I know plenty of Asian women who take a keen interest in politics.

“But it is also the case that many are not aware of their civic duties, and that is something we are trying to provide information on.

“In many families a husband and wife will talk about things like that and both agree who to vote for. It may also be the case that the man is more politically active and his wife takes the lead from him.

“We have a culture where we talk in families, this is not a sinister thing and should not be portrayed as so.”