For those outside Ireland, the following may come as a shock, but this event has swept across Ireland over the last few days. A young woman was murdered while out for a run. (the vast majority of Irish news sites are running stories on this event, so please check them out. Also, there are vigils being held in every county in Ireland over the coming days, so if you are in a position to check those out, please do so).
Some of the things that have shocked the nation:
- She was a young woman
- She was a teacher for a 1 st class in a local village school (1st class =6-7 yr olds)
- She was out for a run
- She was considered an excellent fiddle player and involved in her local Comhaltas group
- She was running in a public place, well populated
- She was running in daylight
- She was dressed appropriately for running
- She was beautiful
If you were looking for a list of attributes for a woman who did not deserve, under anyone’s consideration, to be murdered, this woman would have fit the bill. I think even the most conservative of religious conservatives would admit, this woman has done nothing wrong.
And she was murdered, in broad daylight, in a populated place, well known for walkers and runners. Now, to be clear, I don’t care if she was a naked, plastered, a sex worker, a drug addict, ugly, at midnight, etc, etc she did not deserve to be murdered. No one does. But she was doing everything “right”.
So, we, as a society here in Ireland, are now looking around and thinking – just what sort of society do we have here, that a young woman, doing everything “right” can be murdered in broad daylight.
To some people reading this, the murder of a young woman might not even make the news where you are – and I’m sorry for you if that’s the case. That’s not a society I want to live in. I’m also aware that there are many women in Ireland killed on a regular basis that don’t have the newsworthy considerations this young woman did, and again, that is on us as a society. All people are equal, and we should be equally outraged at any murder.
But since this story has hit the news headlines, let’s use this as an opportunity to examine what sort of society we want and need to develop.
Women in Ireland are not, as yet, fully equal in society in my opinion. Our movements are restricted in ways men just aren’t. The notion of “call me when you get home” is an almost entirely female one – among friends anyway. Mammies always want to know their offspring are home safe! The practice of holding your keys in your hand, making sure you have the correct key ready so there’s no fumbling at the door, making sure if you have the temerity to listen to music or podcasts or the radio as you walk or run, that the volume is at the right level so you can hear someone approaching from behind or the side. Never walk home alone. Definitely, never walk home alone in the dark. Always stay in groups. Mind your drinks. Abandon your drink rather than risk it. Be careful what you wear.
The list of “appropriate safety measures” women take, just without even thinking about it, is long. And that’s before we get into dating, or red flags in relationships, etc. This is just purely, walking around in our daily lives.
The first time I said to my now-husband, “give me a text when you get home”, he laughed. He lived 1 street over at the time. He fundamentally didn’t understand the impulse that drove me to say it. It took years before he fully understood…
Ashling Murphy didn’t deserve to die. She’s missed out on the majority of her life because someone decided she should die for reasons as yet unknown. She’s never going to get married or form a long term partnership lasting decades. Whether or not she wanted a family, that choice has now been taken from her. Her family are left with a massive hole where their daughter, sibling, cousin used to be.
It’s a life wasted, because it’s a life not lived.