Safety at Night for Women

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I am a twenty eight year old female living in Wexford. I don't go out very often but when I do, my experience of going on a night out in Ireland is often frightening. I have travelled to about ten different countries and gone out on many nights out and I have never experienced the threatening rape culture in other societies like I have experienced in Ireland. I think awareness needs to be raised around this issue and in particular through an advertising campaign. We have all seen how cultural norms can be changed through powerful advertising. We have seen peoples' attitudes change towards drink driving for example in this country and if it were not for the power of ad campaigns we would still be having the same carnage on our roads. In a nightclub here in Ireland it is not uncommon for a girl or woman to be slapped on the behind by a complete stranger, to have a man put his hand up her skirt or to be cornered on the dance floor and forced to kiss a man. We call this lad culture but that just takes away from the seriousness of it. In fact, these are very common experiences for a female in Ireland. It's frightening, degrading, threatening and completely disrespectful to women and often physically hurts as well as emotionally and socially. When the issue is talked about with men, there is often a backlash of "Not all men are like that". And while that is very true, the truth of the matter is that it happens all too often and not enough men are standing up against it. They don't want to get involved, it's not their business, or they'll laugh along with the joke and say "Boys will be boys" or "It's only messing, a bit of fun" or "Lighten up, will you?" It shames and embarrasses me that this is my Ireland, this is what female tourists can expect to experience when they visit our beautiful country, but also that this is my home; a place where I am supposed to feel safe, and I don't. The last time I went out to a nightclub in Wexford, for example, I got slapped on the behind so many times I had to start walking with my hands behind my back just to stop it. My eyes stung with the pain of it and I was trying to remain calm and dignified. When I got to a corner where I felt safer, I started to relax and hoped I could forget about it and enjoy my night. But then, like the straw that broke the camel's back, another guy crept up behind me an walloped me again while laughing and pointing at his friend as the perpetrator. Tears welled up in my eyes with the humiliation, the feeling of being non-stop attacked and I couldn't take anymore. I went home after spending just ten minutes in that nightclub and when I arrived home I had bruises and red hand prints all over my backside and the backs of my legs. I'm certainly not the only woman to experience this, I see it happening all the time. I've heard other women's stories, I'm not the first and I certainly won't be the last until something is done. It's time to stop this behaviour, it's time that men became aware of the impact this has on women. It's time to realise it's not funny, it's not banter, it's sexual harrassment. Enough is enough!



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