Radio presenter Michael Laws has come under fire for asking if violence against women is okay if they are not intelligent.

He called the anti-violence against women White Ribbon campaign "the crappiest, stupidest, most moronic display of public sentiment this country indulges in".

Laws made the comments on his RadioLive programme, asking callers to ring in about a joint Women's Refuge and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals survey. A third of the respondents said they stayed in abusive relationships because they were scared their partner would hurt their pets if they left.

Laws said he seriously doubted the credibility of the survey as "I don't know if this many people are born subnormal".


"Do we need to feel any sympathy for women, or men, in plights such as these?" Mr Laws had asked.

"Do these women deserve to be abused almost, in fact invited, if that's their reason for staying?"

Families Commission chief commissioner Carl Davidson last night condemned Laws' comments.

"To suggest that somehow women can be deserving of violence is not only uninformed, it's abhorrent," Mr Davidson said.

"With an average of 14 women a year killed in family violence incidents, all New Zealanders should take violence against women seriously, including Michael Laws."

Mr Davidson said the White Ribbon campaign did not blame men for family violence, as Mr Laws had suggested, but it sees men as part of the solution offering alternatives for violence.

Laws said he stands by his view on White Ribbon but said he had been misunderstood about his views on family violence.

"The overwhelming reaction from callers this morning that a woman who would stay in an abusive relationship because she was concerned of her pet dogs, cats or goldfish is really not deserving of too much sympathy."

David White, a White Ribbon ambassador, said he found Laws' comments offensive.

"As a father who has lost a daughter to a family violence murder, I will not stay silent when I hear men saying it's okay to be violent towards women," Mr White said.