“She was like summer warmth on a cold day – she was a girl who would make any dad proud.”

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been at this blogging lark for almost a year now, my first post having been on 26th October 2010. I started this because I didn’t know where the young feminist voices were in Northern Ireland and it seemed that if I started to shout out then maybe they’d shout back. It’s an absolute honour to now be able to make noise together as part of Belfast Feminist Network along with all the other great feminists I’ve been lucky enough to meet because of this pursuit.

Over the next couple of weeks as soisaystoher approaches its first birthday I am going to try and review the main issues that have been discussed here this year and try and put some perspective on what has actually been done. Have there been positive changes in any of the areas our blog posts have highlighted or are we struggling to get off square one?

It would also be good to plan some actions for November/December as we focus on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Last year I wanted to do something but alone it felt impossible to make an impact. This year alone is not a word that describes my feminist experience I’m glad to say, and so I know we can come up with some ideas to remind the people of Northern Ireland that violence against women is all of our responsibility. A quick scan of today’s news alone brings a terrible reminder of the ‘two women a week’ statistic that describes the number of women who die at the hands of partners or ex-partners in the UK.

Just around the corner from me in East Belfast a 38 year old man has been beating his girlfriend. She has reported his abuse to the police on numerous occasions over recent months only to later withdraw her complaints. Right now she is lying in a hospital bed recovering after he tried to beat her to death, covering 70% of her body in bruises, and when that didn’t work he tried to smother her. The police are shocked and horrified. They’ve never seen injuries like this. I wonder if they’ve learnt anything about the terror that prevents domestic abuse victims from following through with complaints and the responsibility on them to fully investigate and provide adequate follow up and support? If she had died would any of them have been held to account? The (female) judge thankfully remanded this bastard in custody as she understood the likelihood that he would try to cause further harm. I drove down Templemore Avenue today. It is a small street of terrace houses, much like my own. I can hear my neighbours sneeze. I’m bloody sure somebody heard this woman receiving regular beatings and her story made me vow never to turn away from someone in the grip of abuse or fail to speak up when apologists try to make our society believe violence against women isn’t real. Read the full story from the BBC.

The title of my blog post is a quote from Roger West, a grandfather from Nottingham who is speaking in today’s Belfast Telegraph after his 21 year old daughter was murdered by a violent man in her own home. I can’t read this story without feeling like I am crumbling inside. We can’t crumble however. Crumbling is not an option. For every woman who has suffered because a man fails to understand that she is a human being, equal to him in her personhood, not there to serve or please or obey.

Miss West’s father Roger West paid tribute to his daughter as being like “summer warmth on a cold day”.

Mr West, from Nottingham, said: “The most important thing in the world to Sara was her family. If she loved someone, she would do absolutely anything for that person.”

He said the 21-year-old, who has two sisters, was a proud mother to son Joshua, who is nearly nine weeks old.

“She lost a baby last year, and she was devastated,” he said.

“When Joshua came along her world completely changed – all of a sudden, her dreams had come true and she was so proud and happy.

“She spoke about going to college to become a midwife – she had the rest of her life ahead of her. It’s hard to cope and it does not seem real right now. She was like summer warmth on a cold day – she was a girl who would make any dad proud.”

Read more here.


2 Responses to ““She was like summer warmth on a cold day – she was a girl who would make any dad proud.””

  1. 1 Catherine October 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Its good to hear some feminist comments on Belfast.
    I was appalled by the case in East Belfast – I am sure there are many similar situations in other parts of the city too.

  2. 2 auntie Lenore October 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Such a sad story – that young life violently taken by someone who was supposed to love her – and the East Belfast case too – shocking to think this is happening in our world – what happens to these animals to cause them to behave so violently – towards so called ‘loved ones’ I hope these cases keep on being brought to public attention – but the authorities need to do more – everyone seems so concerned about saving the planet – there’s stuff going on in our neighbourhoods that need urgent attention.

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