Women will not be silenced

Williamstown resident, Piper Riggs said there are calls to speak up and be part of a solution.

For many women the constant fear and anxiety of being alone at night and in public spaces has unfortunately become the norm.

Last Monday thousands of women were seen participating in the March4Justice at Parliament House in Canberra, demanding politicians put an end to sexism and help women feel safe and supported.

Since the recent rise in the women’s movement, many have been inspired and encouraged to speak about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. 

Eighteen year old Piper Riggs from Williamstown told The Leader she can remember multiple times she has felt unsafe around groups of men acting inappropriately. 

“The first time I was able to go out in the city, I was walking past one of the clubs and a group of boys came out yelling at me and fighting,” she said.

“That put me in instant fear of being by myself.

“I thought to myself that I would never want to be alone in that situation again.”

More recently, women have felt angered and frustrated following the disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard.

The 33-year-old from London was last seen walking home alone to her apartment before she disappeared.

Later, a man was arrested and charged for Sarah’s kidnapping and murder.

The disapperance has sparked conversation across the world about the safety for women, and the bad behaviour they can be subject to.

Last year a report from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicated during 2018 to 2019, 97 per cent of sexual assault offenders recorded by police were male.

After witnessing terrifying behaviour, Piper told The Leader she did not feel confident going out by herself again.

“Women shouldn’t have to feel like they are scared” she said.

“Personally, being with big groups of people I am familiar with makes me feel safer than walking the streets by myself these days.

“Recently, I went out with a group of five girls.

“At the start of the night we all added each other to our emergency contacts in our phones.

“Throughout the night we checked on each other in case someone went home, but like I said, we shouldn’t have to do that.” 

A survey from The Mission Australia Gender Gaps 2018 Youth Survey revealed 46.6 per cent of women aged between 15 and 19 years felt ‘unsafe’ when walking alone in their community after dark. 

Only 18.1 per cent of men reported feeling the same. 

Whist there are those who are respectful, the need to educate the youth of today on respectful behaviour is evident.

“Whether you are a man or woman and have been victim or a witness to sexual assault, there are calls to speak up and be part of the solution, not the problem,” Piper said. 

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