By Theo Burman
Purple Radio has this week broadcasted a program featuring student leaders and local politicians in discussion about the consequences of Sarah Everard’s death and issues facing women in the Durham community.
The “Voices of Durham” program featured hosts Jo Wright and Molly Stazicker, Mary Foy MP, Seun Twins (SU President), Dan Takyi (President of Durham People of Colour Association), Freya Bailes (Captain of the Durham Women’s Football Club), Dan Aichen (Charity Officer for Collingwood College AFC) and Shmalia Ahmed (head of Black Lives Matter Kingston).
The discussion, which lasted for an hour and a half, touched on Sarah Everard, Durham’s culture, Consent Matters, and the place of optimism in the response to recent events.
Mary Foy discussed Sarah Everard in a national context, outlining “the power of collective action” in bringing awareness and change to the rest of the public. She also highlighted the impact of Sarah’s death on the perception of the new sentencing legislation.
“This new legislation is absolutely dreadful, it actually includes a longer sentence for pulling down a statue of a dead man, a slave owner, than it does for raping a woman. We have every right to protest and pay our respects and grieve.”
She also said that the bill contravened the Human Rights Act, saying “there’s so much wrong with that bill, it shows you that they’ve got the focus wrong”.
When the conversation turned towards the culture in Durham and how it should approach the issues brought forward last week, Twins noted the work done by the SU’s Culture Commission: “This is a chance for students to be introspective, and think about how they want to be percieved”.
When discussing the type of responses the Durham community should see, Shmalia said “For me, it’s about recognising that everyone has a part to play in this, men and women. There is a lot of complicity that leads to events like this.”
Dan Takyi built on this sentiment, comparing #NotAllMen to the All Lives Matter reaction after the prominence of Black Lives Matter. “We need to discontruct the idea that men can only call out this behaviour when they have a personal connection.
“We’ve leaned too much into the idea that we have to be friends with people before we can stand up for them and respect them. Fundamentally, this should be a basic human response.”
Towards the end of the program, the conversation touched on the role of optimism in the current situation. Seun: “As a young woman, I am very exausted by this conversation. I think a lot of young women are.
“When men want to chime in and talk about how to solve these issues, I think it’s kind of disrespectful when women’s groups have been doing so for so long and have been called extemists.
“There is definitly a space for optimism and it’s only through optimism that we can grow, but I also thing there can be a space for women to just be upset at this moment.”
Purple Radio noted that the personal beliefs of the participants do not reflect the official stances of the bodies they represent.
Image: Purple Radio