Image from Flickr. Credit: Morten Watkins on Flickr <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/>
Women across Salford are sharing their opinions and experiences of women’s safety in Salford.
After the news of Sarah Everard’s death, coming so soon after the International Women’s Day celebrations, women across the nation have been sharing their thoughts and experiences on sexual harassment and assault online.
Discussions began about how women can be made to feel unsafe and what others could do to improve upon this.
Community member Alice Wong said: “I’ve been writing to the mayor about Lower Broughton area and a park which has had some broken lighting for quite some time, looks like they are fixing the main play area park lights but also the pathway near the church has no lighting and its quite unsafe!”
There were countless conversations about areas that are practically impossible for women, or anyone, to feel safe walking down within the city.
Areas with low or no lighting were highlighted as problems for women’s safety, as well as isolated paths and walkways.
Ashley Barbie Charlene stated: “The area around the precinct is the most uninviting place to walk. Given it’s the pedestrian access to Tesco, the gym, etc, there’s not a chance I or anyone I know would feel comfortable walking under the subway/bridge.”
A survey from UN Women UK revealed that 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been sexually harassed before. 80% of women of all ages reported that they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces during their lifetime.
Other women have noted the importance of groups in Salford that allow women the freedom to take part in outdoor activities when it is dark outside.
Ruth Platty explained: “I think women’s groups like We Run Salford are really important. They are a group based in Langworthy. It gives women the opportunity to run in the evening, even when it’s dark.
“The group is also a presence, showing others its safe to be out and about. Love it.”
We Run Salford is a women’s running group that does a weekly run on Thursday evenings. The group welcomes all women to join in and exercise without the fear of being alone.
Rachel Morris, co-leader of We Run Salford, said: “I’ve never felt unsafe because no ones ever left on their own, so even if you’re really fast or really slow there will always be somebody with you.
“It’s part of what we wanted to create to help people to feel safe and confident to run in their own community,”
Groups like these are regarded highly in the community, as many women stated feeling scared to exercise in isolated areas throughout the city.
Issues Beyond Salford:
Some have pointed out that the issue is much deeper rooted and won’t be solved by only improving women’s safety within cities.
Sarah Whitehead, 36, expanded on this: “This is about a much wider issue of thousands of women who spoke out about their abuse and faced victim blaming, minimising of abuse and misogyny.”
Another member of the community stated that it is not just a Salford issue and calls on those with the power to enforce the law to act on complaints of threatening behaviour before it turns into real violence.
I spoke to Emma Smith Whitely, who runs multiple women’s fitness groups in Salford, about her experiences with sexual harassment while out in the community.