MORE than 50 people gathered on Grand Parade today in a protest against gender-based violence.
The event, organised by the feminist and socialist movement Rosa, had stewards and signs encouraging social distancing and safe Covid procedures. The ground had been marked to show people how to stand 2m apart.
Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan said: “This came about after the horrific death of Sarah Everard in the UK, which sent shockwaves not just in England but internationally because it tapped into the deep-seated fears pretty much all women feel on a day-to-day basis that we kind of forget exists until these cases come about.
“Sarah Everard did everything right and it still wasn’t enough to protect her ultimately.”
The councillor said that, since the pandemic, the issue of female safety had come to the forefront of society.
“There has been an 88% increase in intimate partner violence and a study found that 83% of women said they felt the need to restrict their movements because of fear of sexual harassment or violence. This shouldn’t be the case.”
Leah Wood, 27, said she attended the protest as it was something close to her heart.
“I’ve been in uncomfortable situations,” she said.
Mandy McCarthy, 26, said: “We should be telling men not to prey on women. I have been preyed on, on nights out.”
Mandy said there was no winning for women and it is always the woman’s fault.
“I’m tired of living my life and being told I’m not living it right and I’m not protecting myself and I’m not doing enough to keep myself safe.
“Yes, it is not all men, but we have to treat it like it is to be safe because, if we don’t, it is our fault and not theirs and our country is very far behind in women’s rights.”
Law student Martin Rahill was also in attendance.
“Not enough is being done to protect women, people are sick of inaction,” he said, adding that it was important that men speak up about gender-based violence.
“A lot of men think so little of women that, if a woman tells them their attitude is problematic, they won’t listen. That is why we need men to stand up to their male friends, because some men only listen to other men.”
Heather, a member of Rosa and of the Solidarity Party, said that every woman can say they have felt afraid walking home at night or have texted their location to a friend when they go on a date. “We are looking for fundamental change.”
Rosa member Katie said that if there was one thing to take from the protest, it was that some men’s behaviour was unacceptable.
“Women should be able to walk around at night. The fear that women live with is not normal and it shouldn’t be justified anymore.”