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Urgent societal change needed

News

Rose Conway Walsh, TD, (left) and Mary Nestor, GMIT.

Michael Gallagher

Mayo has been rocked by the murder in Tullamore of 23-year-old schoolteacher Ashling Murphy. The tragic incident has deeply impacted all sections of society and yesterday (Monday) both Rose Conway Walsh, TD, and Mary Nestor, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at GMIT, said the issue of gender-violence requires an urgent societal change.
“The killing of Ashling Murphy last week has rightly moved the nation. She is now one of the 244 women who have died violently in Ireland since 1996, some of them here in our own county.
“The sorrow and anger I have felt is deep as we all question why a young woman going for a run could be killed,” Deputy Conway Walsh said.
“My only hope is that this be a watershed moment where perpetrators of violence against women are made pay for their crimes; where they are given sentences and punishment that make them afraid and deters them from behaviour leading to the taking of a life, assaulting a woman or controlling a woman’s life.
 “So the next time we rush to judgement on a woman who has left an abusive partner, heap praise on a perpetrator because he ‘comes from a good family,’ is a member of a reputable association, has a good job or its just that ‘the drink doesn’t suit him’ - let’s stop and think about how we contribute to the treatment of women as less than equal. Let’s grieve for Ashling but let us look closer to home too. We all have a part to play in the society we shape,” the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Higher Education stated.

Societal issue
Her comments came as GMIT’s Mary Nestor said gender-based violence is a societal issue and men must help call it out. Ms Nestor, who is also Co-Chair of GMIT’s Working Group on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct and Harassment said violence needs to be looked at in a new light.
“We know that violence is prevalent in society. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be viewed as a women’s issue. It’s an issue right across society and ranges from tolerance of low-level misogyny all the way up to criminal offences that have life-changing effects for victims of abuse. It’s critical that boys and men get involved in conversations and call out behaviours when they witness them. Significant cultural change on this issue cannot be achieved unless there are male voices in the conversation,” Ms Nestor told The Mayo News.
Significant steps have been taken over the past year on all GMIT campuses where a safe, respectful, and supportive environment for all staff and students is paramount.
Initiatives targeted at consent, sexual awareness and unconscious bias have been implemented as well as a ‘Speak Out’ anonymous reporting tool for all staff and students in the GMIT community.
“We’re all working towards making our society a safer place for all and last week’s events starkly highlight the need for everyone to work even harder,” Ms Nestor concluded.