"Pandemic of violence against women" condemned following Ashling Murphy murder 7 months ago

"Pandemic of violence against women" condemned following Ashling Murphy murder

"We have to take this seriously. This is not a women's issue."

Muireann O'Connell has spoken out about the "pandemic of violence against women" following the murder of Ashling Murphy.

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The 23-year-old teacher was out for a jog yesterday in Tullamore at 4pm when she was killed. Gardaí have since arrested a man in his 40s after what they believe to have been a random attack. 

Speaking succinctly on Ireland AM this morning, O'Connell said that these attacks can no longer be seen as "women's issues."

She said: "Women walk home with keys in their hands to make sure they're okay. They put in earphones with nothing [playing] so they're aware of their surroundings if someone comes. They don't walk alone, they get taxis home, they've got 999 on their phones ready to press call.

"They share taxis, they go out of their way, they're in well lit areas. I don't know what else can be said about this, violence against women perpetrated by men is a pandemic. And it doesn't feel like we're doing anything about it. We only need to talk about Jastine Valdez, Ana Kriégel, Elaine O'Hara.

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She went on: "It can't be on the women anymore. What are you wearing? What are you doing? Why were you out alone? Why can't I walk on the streets? Last week we saw two men get bail, €200 bail, for an attack on a 17-year-old girl - Alanna Quinn Idris.

"It's not good enough anymore. We have to take this seriously. This is not a women's issue. And I know it's not all men, people will say it's not all men, but it's happening and we have to do something about it."

The news of Ashling's death has rocked not just the local community but the entire country, as the question of women's safety - even in broad daylight - is once again brought to the fore.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, said that the focus should not be on what women can do to stay safe, but on the perpetrators of violence against women.

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“The killing of women is the extreme end of a spectrum of violence and abuse that women in Ireland and across the world experience every day," she said.

"The appalling murder of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in Co. Offaly, yesterday is a shocking example of the dangers posed to women by violent men. We offer our sincere condolences to Ashling’s family, friends and community."

She went on: “As with the horrific case of Sarah Everard’s murder in the UK last year, we see on social media, an outpouring of women’s lifelong experiences of systemic misogyny and casual sexism and abuse. We are also hearing of the internalised fears many women carry no matter where they are in public places because of this.

"Any response to yesterday’s appalling events must not focus on places – it must focus on perpetrators. We must not fall into tired tropes of examining whether areas are ‘safe’ but consider instead the attitudes and actions of men who make women feel unsafe even in crowded and well lit areas.

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“Women are not afraid of the dark or a lonely space. They are afraid of a violent male perpetrator in the dark.  Not all men are violent, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that. However, the majority of violence against women, and indeed men, is perpetrated by men.  That’s something as a whole society, including men, we need to tackle.

“Every woman should have the right to be safe, both in their own homes and in their communities. We need a zero tolerance to all forms of male violence against women and it will take all of us to commit to lasting change. This includes men who must act as allies in tackling misogyny and inequality.  There needs to be an investment in resources for education to change attitudes and we need an improved criminal justice system that better protects women. If we do this, we will ultimately create a more equal and safer society for everyone – men and women alike.”

Gardaí are currently urgently seeking witnesses to the attack or anyone who was in the Cappincur/canal walk area of Tullamore before 4pm yesterday to contact them at Tullamore garda station on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.