Can women safely exist in our society?

Commentary

Kylie McGovern, Editor

Header image: Philly Voice

A few weeks ago I began to ponder the different newsworthy things I had heard about in recent days both at La Salle and the greater area of Philadelphia. What came to mind made me sick: the news about a woman who was raped while riding on a SEPTA Market-Frankford train at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby. There is immense controversy about whether there were bystanders who took cell phone videos without calling the police or physically intervening but, frankly, my greater concern is the fact that a woman cannot ride public transportation without fear of literally being sexually assaulted. 

I know that I, among other La Salle students, use SEPTA frequently. This injustice that occurred to this woman shakes me to my core. I am frankly disgusted that we live in a world where women cannot even travel on or use resources like SEPTA without being endangered. I fear for my female classmates, my friends, my sisters, my aunts, my mother and my grandmothers who all use SEPTA. I am disgusted that females cannot even exist without being hurt.

This issue is bigger than just SEPTA. The world does not protect its women. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.” Furthermore, in a survey reported by the BBC, a third of respondents thought it was acceptable for men to hit their partners. These facts further emphasize the vulnerability women face today based on their gender.

A woman should not have to fear taking the train home from work. A woman should not have to fear walking home at night. A woman should not have to fear being talked down to by her coworkers or classmates. A woman should not have to fear seeing her perpetrators walk away unscathed. Women should not fear living, but they do — I walk across 20th street alone fearing being catcalled out of someone’s window and as they drive away laughing, I feel uncomfortable and ashamed.

Now I have to fear taking the train. I am terrified for the women around me and myself. Simply terrified. I am afraid for every woman I either know or do not know. I hope and I pray that this disgusting act of femicide, among the other situations myself and the women I know face every day, will one day disappear.

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