‘A catalyst for change’
A Leeside advocate for women’s safety has said she hopes the murder of Offaly teacher Ashling Murphy will help to bring about change in Irish society.
Speaking with the Cork Independent in the aftermath of Ms Murphy’s murder last Wednesday, Mary Crilly, Director of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, said she was “stunned” by the outpouring of support seen around the country.
“I have great hope that we can make changes, I really do. To see so many out on Saturday morning around the Atlantic Pond, about 5,000 people, that’s saying a lot. I really hope it is a catalyst for change,” she said.
Ashling Murphy, a 23 year old primary school teacher, was fatal assaulted while jogging last Wednesday afternoon on a path beside a canal in the town of Tullamore in Offaly. Her funeral was held on Tuesday.
Since Ms Murphy’s death, thousands of people have attended vigils in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London and New York.
Her brutal murder in broad daylight has been likened to that of Sarah Everard in the UK last year and has refocused attention on the debate surrounding women’s safety in modern society.
“It isn’t all men but the men who do it will continue to do it if we allow them. The whole issue of violence against women needs to be talked about.
“We need to change the conversation. It needs to become a part of an open and normal conversation,” said Ms Crilly.
She added that people in Cork and in Ireland need to try to be more aware of the violence happening every day and to “keep the conversation going” in order to change the culture.
Meanwhile, Ms Crilly also spoke to the newspaper about her own work with the victims of sexual violence and rape in Cork. She said: “Rape is a very black and white crime. It’s about power, it’s about control, nothing else. I really hope that people in organisations will rally around and will challenge attitudes out there.”
She said the conversation about sexual violence needs to start within families and pointed out that the majority rapes and acts of sexual violence are carried out by someone the victim knows.
“Everybody hates this conversation, we hate the idea that this has happened to our families,” said Ms Crilly.
In her experience, Ms Crilly says many young women are afraid to speak to their fathers in particular because of how they might react.
She said: “Girls might say a few different things. They might say, ‘I’m a daddy’s girl and I really love him and I don’t want him to look at me differently’. They might also say, ‘I couldn’t tell my father because he’d go out and kill the perpetrator’.”
Ms Crilly said a large number of men partake in “toxic behaviours” these days, often without knowing or realising the harm it is causing.
“It isn’t all men who are doing it but I think a lot of men take part in the toxic conversations. Men have told me that when they go into a group together, the conversation can get quite toxic. Now, they mightn’t partake in it, but nor do they challenge it. I think they really don’t realise the harm that’s being done by it,” she said.