(TW: Murder, Sexual violence)
On Monday the 8th of March we celebrated International Women’s Day - and we committed to choose to challenge any instances of sexism, misogyny, and gender-based violence. On the 10th of March Sarah Everard's body was discovered after she had been murdered in London by a police officer while walking home at night. On the 13th of March we commemorated the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death - murdered by police officers in her own home. On the 14th of March, the UK celebrated Mother’s Day. This is a paradox that comes to show how much society talks about women but how little action is taken to ensure women's safety is a basic right.
It is deeply saddening that women don’t feel safe when walking alone at night, that they are never free from violence. At ENSA we stand with campaigners across the UK in demanding safety in public spaces and protection from abuse and harassment for all women and girls. On our side, we will continue our work as a Students' Association to prevent any form of violence against women and girls - on and off campus. We also support the call for the legal recognition of misogyny as a hate crime.
In remembering Sarah Everard, we also remember all the other women and girls who have been murdered, abused or raped. We must all make sure that we condemn any form of misogyny, from sexist jokes to catcalling to rape to murder. If any of your friends or family members are behaving inappropriately, try and stand up to challenge this behaviour. Try and talk about what happened with the people you know, open up the conversation - are people in your social circle complicit in discrimination and violence against women?
It’s important to understand that almost all women and girls have endured some form of sexual harassment in their lives. This has become normalised, and it must stop. We must also bear in mind that, as this conversation continues, that women of colour, including trans women of colour, are disproportionately affected by violence and face multiple barriers to accessing support. At ENSA we will continue to work for equality and equity for any student whatever race, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. We can and must do more to ensure that all victims of abuse are able to access the support they need and that they are believed when speaking up.
At ENSA we have been working to combat sexism, through consent training for sports & societies, our ENSA 50 'promoting positive choices' group, working with the University Wellbeing and Inclusion team and getting involved with the EmilyTest charity. At the weekend we went to the Meadows to tie a ribbon on Sarah's Tree to show support. We encourage any student to do the same: https://www.instagram.com/sarahs_tree/
We know that this is a difficult subject to discuss - but it needs to be addressed. If you have been affected in any way by this, there are support systems in place at the University for you.
If you would like to talk with a councillor or mental health adviser: https://www.napier.ac.uk/study-with-us/student-life/counselling-and-mental-wellbeing
If you need to report abuse, harassment, discrimination or sexual violence: https://reportandsupport.napier.ac.uk/