This week I was thinking about the time I was approached by a man in the park on my way to college, and about another time when I hid in a furniture shop to get away from someone who was following me. Every day on my way home from work in the dark I had one hand on my phone and the other on my keys. I thought I was the only woman who did that, however this week I discovered I am most certainly not alone, and if I had discussed it with my friend’s I would have realised that it was something we all did, automatically. It never came up in conversation.
But now, that conversation is taking place across the UK. It took the kidnap and murder of a young woman, Sarah Everard, to draw attention to the lack safety for women. Sarah was simply walking home from a friend’s house at the time and our sympathies and solidarity go out to Sarah’s family and friends and to all those who have been exposed to male violence. To show some sense of solidarity the hashtag #JustWalkingHome has been created on social media and many women have taken to it to tell of the times they have felt unsafe in the streets. You should check it out.
Women can also feel unsafe in the workplace. Here are some practical things which IWW women can do to help keep ourselves and our colleagues safe in the workplace: educate male co-workers, friends (and family) about what life is like for women and suggest ways to make us feel more comfortable. Campaign in our workplaces for safe space and lone working policies and report any near misses – open up a dialogue. Additionally, send branch motions to the IWW conference, the Women’s Officer or the DEC with ideas for safety training and workshops. We also need to work more urgently on ending our patriarchal systems.
Reclaim These Streets have set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for women’s charitable causes in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death. If you would like to donate, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/reclaimthesestreets.
Hazel – IWW WISERA Women’s Officer.