Gail's Gab: women must be free to walk Glasgow's streets, free from fear of rape

Arguments, feuds, fights and assaults are all part of society's underbelly. Some even result in serious injury or fatalities.

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But for me and I'm sure many women, the fear of rape is beyond comprehension and the lowest of the low in relation to the perpetrators who carry out such cowardly attacks on women.

I am totally intolerant of anyone who rapes another human being. It is a crime which almost always involves a man abusing his power and forcing themselves on a woman filled with fear and likely to be physically injured, but most definitely mentally scarred, for life.

The vile rapes that have taken place within the last two weeks in Toryglen and Govanhill, barely a mile apart, have brought all such fears to a head across the southside of Glasgow.

Tommy and I met a couple from Toryglen at a social event in East Kilbride on Saturday night. They were a lovely couple.

Alan had been stopped by the police while driving home as part of the on-going investigation. He said it was a robust set of questions which made him feel like a suspect.

His partner Hazel and I agreed such tough questioning was necessary during investigations into vile offences like these.

Alan innocently commented on how it was silly for women on their own to be walking through the streets so late into the early hours of the morning.

Hazel and I took him to task. He wasn't saying it consciously but, in effect,such views reflect the idea that perhaps a woman on her own walking through the streets is somehow a contributory factor to what happened.

So while absolutely condemning the rapes, what Alan was effectively suggesting was it was unwise to be out alone at such a late hour. If men are honest, they will probably admit to holding a similar view.

It is wrong, wrong, wrong. There are absolutely NO contributory factors to rape. Women should be able to walk through any street at any time wearing any outfit without being subject to intimidation, attack or rape. We have to emphasise over and over again there is no excuse. Rape is rape. A woman's right to wear what she wants and walk wherever she wants at whatever time she wants is not conditional, it is absolute.

No man under ANY circumstance has the excuse or reason to rape a woman, whether in the street randomly or in a house after a night on the town.

When a woman says no to sexual contact it means no in ANY circumstances.

These two rapes in Govanhill and Toryglen have made women across Glasgow, but particularly in the southside, very worried.

The speculation is the perpetrators are multiple and several. That is frightening. They have to be caught and prosecuted with the full force of the law.

And women in the area must be assured they are safe at any hour of the day and whether they are on their own or not.

That is why the demonstration which has been called for Monday June 9 is so important. Two women from Govanhill have called for a march at midnight that evening under the title, These streets were made for walking.

I would encourage everyone, men and women, to support this event if you can. Assemble at the Queen's Park gates at the top of Victoria Road at midnight on June 9 and show solidarity with the women so brutally attacked by marching in unity against rape and the idea that any street at any time is dangerous for any woman. Please go along and encourage others to attend if they can.

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