We need to stand up so women don’t have to worry about being murdered

I have never experienced such a national collective expression of grief, grief and anger as I have over the past seven days. That a wonderful young girl with so much to offer the world could be murdered while jogging after work in broad daylight shocked us all. Left us numb.

Sometimes language fails to capture the emotions of the inner world. I am a father of three daughters and I find it difficult to understand how I feel. I am appalled at our society, that our mothers, daughters and sisters are not safe. I’m ashamed but I’m also angry. The ordinary day for Ashling, going home to school and deciding to go for a run is something we all do. Ashling is all women. We can’t use “Oh, she was out late” or “She shouldn’t have been so drunk” as excuses for women to become victims of crime.

We often try to explain obnoxious and obnoxious behavior by somehow blaming the victim for putting themselves in harm’s way. And this must stop. My own wife is a teacher, after work she often goes for a run. This case really touched her. His sleep has been greatly disturbed during the week. I woke up to find her sitting up in bed thinking about Ashling, her family, what her students were going through, and ruminating on whether or not our daughters were safe.

Ashling Murphy: Photo: RIP.ie

This terrible crime has disturbed us all, but we must use this collective expression of shock to become a collective response of solidarity.

Whenever I write about violence against women in our society, I am accused of being a left-liberal who runs the Irish Examiner’s feminist program. And that’s kind of the problem here. We get distracted from focusing on the real problem by becoming defensive.

This is not to blame all men or to somehow suggest that all men are potential perpetrators of crimes. The vast majority of men are devastated by what happened last week. They feel powerless and don’t know how they can contribute to making society safer for women. So blaming them is not productive. The conversation should be inclusive. Eavan Bolland has a powerful poem called “the child of our time”. In it she explores the murder of a young boy at the hands of a UVF bomb in 1974 during the Troubles. She speaks of the need to find a “new language” so that society can protect the innocent. We need a new conversation so that no more women are murdered in their daily routine. It starts with small changes. Stop accepting pejorative jokes about female anatomy.

Stop normalizing diminishing opinions of women. It starts in our schools. Deploy healthy programs that address society’s inherent negative views of women. Parents are responsible for the children they bring into the world. The family is the most powerful system that can eradicate misogyny. What children see and experience growing up in their family of origin will overwhelmingly determine whether or not they develop healthy or pathological views of women.

Ashling Murphy's funeral.  Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Ashling Murphy’s funeral. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

There must also be a response at the government level. With the advent of the internet and ubiquitous smartphones, young children watch extremely hard content with uncanny ease. They are just a click away from brutal images that change the way a child perceives women.

Pornography dehumanizes women and can make a vulnerable child pathological in his thoughts. The research is clear. Boy A in the Anna Kreigel case consumed gruesome material such as bestiality and extreme slavery. We must act on this information. We can no longer stay in bed while our young children are exposed to such dangerous and toxic materials. This needs to stop, and we need to stop expecting these platforms to be decent and do the right thing. Without government intervention, cigarette manufacturers would continue to promote their harmful products as healthy. We need our politicians to intervene here. We also need our courts to be tougher on crimes against women. The fact that a woman can be abducted, repeatedly raped and attempted to be murdered by an abuser who only stops because he is disturbed in his evil business and is back on the streets in ten years is shocking and an indictment of our society. Leniency for such crimes trickles down to the behavior of the perpetrators.

We need systemic change. We can no longer tolerate negative talk about women that belittles them or casts them as inferior to men. We must find in Ashling Murphy’s “unreasonable end, the reason”. She fought bravely for her life, we all need to stand up now and fight for her life to bring about meaningful change. So that our mothers, daughters and sisters no longer have to worry about being murdered while going for a jog.

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