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13th Jan 2022

Ashling Murphy: when is enough enough?

Ellen Fitzpatrick

She was going for a jog.

*Content warning: this article contains references to violence against women*

This shouldn’t have to be written, it shouldn’t happen time and time again but the devastating truth is – it does.

It hasn’t even been a year since Sarah Everard was tragically killed on her walk home, much less than that since Sabina Nessa was found under similar circumstances.

Ashling Murphy was going for a jog at 4pm. It’s bright again at 4pm. It was a popular exercise route in the middle of Tullamore and she was still targeted.

It didn’t matter what time it was, it didn’t matter where she was or what she was doing, it didn’t matter what she wore, a stranger still killed her.

Women should have the right to be able to jog in peace, without worry or fear that this might happen.

Women should have the right to fundamentally exist without worry or fear that this might happen.

Ashling was a primary school teacher, she was only in her early 20s, younger than me. She loved to perform and was heavily involved in the arts, she was a girl with a passion for something.

Along with this, she played traditional music with her family, her dad plays in a trad band. She would perform with her sister at the Tullamore TradFest. She didn’t deserve this.

No woman deserves this, it shouldn’t have to be said time and time again, something as gut-wrenching as this shouldn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have to come to this.

Women’s Aid is yet again calling for zero tolerance of male violence in the wake of Ashling’s murder. According to the organisation, 244 women have been killed in a violent manner like this since 1996, with 87% of resolved cases being perpetrated by a man known to the victim. 13% of perpetrators were strangers.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid said: “The killing of women is the extreme end of a spectrum of violence and abuse that women in Ireland and across the world experience every day. The appalling murder of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in Co. Offaly, yesterday is a shocking example of the dangers posed to women by violent men. We offer our sincere condolences to Ashling’s family, friends and community.

“While the killing of women by strangers are rare, they highlight the climate of fear in which women live our lives.

“As with the horrific case of Sarah Everard’s murder in the UK last year, we see on social media, an outpouring of women’s lifelong experiences of systemic misogyny and casual sexism and abuse. We are also hearing of the internalised fears many women carry no matter where they are in public places because of this.”

As Benson added, women aren’t afraid of being alone or in a dark space, they are afraid of a violent male perpetrator in the dark. This conversation has been had so much that we know not all men are violent, but in a split second we don’t have enough time to decide who are the good ones and who aren’t.

Women’s Aid has called for an “investment in resources for education to change attitudes and we need an improved criminal justice system that better protects women.”

Women need to be protected, people need to be educated and change their attitudes, and while the sad truth is that this will happen again unless change is made, we can only hope it won’t.

Rest in peace Ashling, this never should have happened to you.