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“Please don’t walk home alone!” safety concern for female students

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More female students fear them walk home as told by increasing posts on ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’.

The act of walking home alone is not experienced the same for women. Credit: @rcberryjr.photography

“I got stalked home last night at 9pm from City Road” starts one of the Facebook posts. Another pleads with others not to walk home alone from the Student Union as she was threatened with rape.

One of many posts that is highlighting the unsafe environment for women in Cardiff.
Source: Facebook Overheard.

The Facebook feed for ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’ is filled with posts of experiences of harassment and assault from concerned women.

Frequent posts narrating incidents that range from stalking, threats, unwanted photographing, pestering and even assaults, have yet again brought concern amongst female students.

Recent data released by South Wales Police shows that there has been an increase in violent and sexual offences in Cathays, with a total of 135 incidents in January this year alone.

Sophie Miles, a graduate from Cardiff University, was upset over the amount of posts that flooded her Facebook wall. She decided to write a post in order to engage more people.

Sophie’s post on the Facebook group ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’ attracted a lot of attention.

“I wrote this post because of the incline in students writing on the Overheard page about incidents that had happened,” said Sophie. “It started consuming my timeline and so I felt like I really needed to get involved!”

Her Facebook post gained 247 likes. Comment after comment showed support for her idea of creating a Facebook group where women can organise group walks to get home safely.

“I think it would benefit a lot of students who have Facebook already,” said Sophie. “It’s easily accessible, it’s free. You could reach hundreds of students in an easy way, and girls could just help girls out and come together.”

Existing apps can turn one’s smartphone into a safety alarm. Both BSafe and Hollie Guard allow users to create their own security network of designated contacts. In case of an emergency, they will be notified when the app is activated.

The safety of female students has not gone unnoticed by Cardiff University’s Student Union. Schemes and campaigns have been put in place in order to highlight the risk. However, awareness of these is still lacking and there is a fear that at some point, it may be too late for someone.

“There is gonna be one where a gal is going to be attacked,” said Cardiff University student Mig Sketeryte. “I am really dreading that post.”

Running as a candidate for VP of Welfare and Campaigns in the 2020 Spring Election, Mig is one of the few candidates that has included a promise of ‘free personal rape alarms made available’ on her campaign flyer.

“It sounds kind of strong, doesn’t it?” said Mig. She intentionally puts this on her flyer in order to be “louder” than the rest. Raising awareness of safety and existing schemes on campus is one of her core policies.

“This issue is really dear to my heart. It urges me to want to change it completely,” she said.

“So little people hear about these schemes. It’s ridiculous the amount of money wasted on a handful of people that actually know about these schemes. It’s insane,” said Mig.

One of the Student Union’s schemes, the Cardiff University Safe Taxi Scheme, involves Dragon Taxi. In the event of an emergency, students can get picked up and dropped off home safely despite not having any cash to pay there and then. Full details will be taken, including student ID number, full name and address. Cardiff University will guarantee the payment and the student can settle up from there.

Another campaign is the Student Safety Walk, where volunteers will be around the Student Union on selected evenings to provide support for students who feel unsafe getting home at night.

“I don’t actually believe that any women ever feel safe walking home. You just kind of get used to it after at some point. Always looking back over one of your shoulders,” said Mig.

Mig sighs and declares her goal: “To give all of the existing campaigns a huge enormous boost so that every single gal, woman, guy and man hears about it.”

Sophie agrees: “I think we need more of an awareness spread in the surrounding areas, especially Cathays.”

The increasing voice of female students on ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’ is raising interest and engagement among fellow students. Under each post of documented incidents, there are enormous supportive replies.

“Anybody really, everyone needs to come together and create a unity so it puts off those creating the incidents,” said Sophie. “Again, Facebook group idea is just so easy, and especially if everyone helped each other out and the university promoted it I think it could really help.”

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