“I just put my head down and walked really fast”: we talk to women in Manchester about how safe they are at night


“I don’t feel safe, I realize that I am alone even if I send someone a message.

“I am aware of the people around me and check that someone is not following me.

“You just don’t know …

“I just put my head down and I walk really fast.”

Rebecca Adams, 29, works for Manchester-based PR firm Quirky Frog, an all-female team.

READ MORE:Adorable story of the dinner lady they all call ‘Nana’

She lives in Muswell Hill, London and works remotely, but has started traveling to Manchester once a month to meet the team.

So far, her boss Rachel Foster, 35, has arranged hotel rooms so she doesn’t have to deal with traveling between the two cities on her own in the dark and cold winter nights. .

Rebecca says Rachel is aware that all of her employees are women and takes every precaution not only to keep them safe, but also to make them feel safe.

Sarah Everard was on her way home when she was killed

This includes dispatching taxis to the station, making sure all staff leave events together in a taxi where possible, and making sure follow-up texts are sent to ensure that all world has made it home.

But she points out that hotels come at a cost and wouldn’t necessarily be necessary if she could be confident in her own safety when traveling alone.

“It’s not something I hear from men,” she says, “that they had to pay for a hotel because they didn’t feel safe traveling at night.

“I know men can be at risk too, random brawls can happen on trains, but women tend to be more vulnerable.”

Rachel herself says she feels responsible to her staff as they are all women.

She says no one has given her this responsibility, but she feels it naturally.

Rachel, who lives in Wilmslow, said: “My husband doesn’t text his friends to make sure they get home safe and sound.

“As women we have to put all of these extra precautions in place.

Rachel feels responsible to her staff as they are all women

“It’s a shame that there is this gender inequality that forces us to do this extra work.”

A mom of two, Rachel says she is hopeful things may have changed for the better when her daughters get older.

She says, “As a mother of two very young daughters, I hope that all of these extra precautions that women need to put in place will not be as prevalent when they are older.

“I know how many extra steps I’m taking and it’s almost like it’s our responsibility to make sure no one attacks us, that we aren’t victims – but the responsibility shouldn’t lie with us.”

Following the gruesome murders of Sara Everard and Sabina Nessa earlier this year, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced a 10-year strategy against gender-based violence.

On Thursday, December 16, he launched a new campaign aimed at men and boys – challenging their behavior to combat sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces.

It will include a range of activities and public engagement on gender-based violence and challenging behaviors of men and boys.

The development of the campaign will be informed by the Greater Manchester Gender-Based Violence Board.

The video aims to show impact behavior that some people may dismiss as “jokes” on those who receive them and asks the question “Do you think this is OK? The campaign’s hashtag for social media is #IsThisOK.

The hope is to get men and boys to recognize that these types of behaviors are in fact not “OK” and that they are in fact unsolicited intrusions that make women uncomfortable. , threatened or even vulnerable.

Every woman will recognize these experiences.

GMCA worked with groups of women and men and boys as part of the development of the video and the storyboard is based on the experiences of women and girls across the UK.

UN Women UK found that: 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space and that number rises to 86% among 18-24 year olds.

It was also found that over 95% of all women did not report their experiences of sexual harassment.

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Looking back here to 2020, I think last year we saw a turning point in the public debate on racial violence and racial discrimination.

“And in 12 months, I want to look back to 2021 as a turning point against gender-based violence, especially violence against women and girls and that’s the subject of this advice.

“It’s about moving from actions and words to actions and actions. Tangible actions and actions.

“We have to change the police. A very different experience for victims when they come to Greater Manchester Police.”

Teacher Sabina Nessa was murdered

Mr Burnham described the conversation he aims to have with men and boys in Greater Manchester as “long overdue”.

The idea that the conversation should have taken place a long time ago resonates with many.

Digital marketer Marie Howley, 33, lives in Chorlton, Manchester, but is unwilling to venture into the city center.

She says she believes that until there are educational and cultural changes, things just won’t get better.

Marie says, “I feel a lot more in danger now than I did when I was a teenager or in my twenties.

Greater Manchester Andy Burnham announced 10-year strategy against gender-based violence

“I don’t know if it’s because I’m more aware of these things now or if it’s because things have gotten more dangerous.

“I certainly fear for my safety anytime I’m alone, if I’m walking and it’s dark and of course it’s dark earlier in the winter.

“It makes the idea of ​​going out on your own to a night out on a night out totally unpleasant because you don’t want to be constantly afraid of being mugged, attacked, or having your drink fortified.

“Of course, anything that can be put in place to make women feel safe, which they have every right to be, is ultimately a good thing, but I think the problem is that these things have to exist in the first place to protect the people whose only crime is being a woman and daring to leave the house.

“I think it really has to start with education at a very young age, parents have to talk to their little boys about equality and set a good example.

“Until we have a generation of boys who are educated on these issues, unfortunately we will need more police and street lighting because there is still so much misogyny and the occasional sexism that leads to these kinds of issues. “

Emily Sutton is a founding member of Right To Walk – a collective that works with local authorities to run awareness campaigns across the city. She helped work on the new video.

She says, “At the end of the day, as a woman, the most important and vital thing that we think about is ‘how to get home safely’.

The holiday season means an influx of parties and late nights, and because of the lack of this past year, you could argue that we’re all more eager to enjoy our freedom this time around.

It always comes with its problems, winter nights are dark and with the sudden lack of Ubers available in the city, coming home suddenly seems like a daunting task. “

“The thought of me coming home alone at night terrifies the daylight of my boyfriend and friends and I can only imagine other women in my position feeling the same.

“The simple task of coming home is now filled with even more anxiety”

“The sad reality is that the streets are not safe and indeed we have to carefully plan how we get home.

“It shouldn’t be like that, but it is.

“Even waiting alone at the bus stop, or for a taxi is an intimidating and dangerous situation and should be avoided, even in well-lit areas.”

“The tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa have all been a cruel reminder to us that women who walk alone are not safe.

“The simple task of coming home is now filled with even more anxiety.

“I know it’s so unfair that we feel like this, and it’s totally unacceptable that the levels of violence against women continue as they do.

“We are surrounded by a growing sense of insecurity and unfortunately the holiday season tends to perpetuate that.”


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