Content Warning: sexual assault and harrassment
On the 24th of February 2021, I was harassed by a man around the Henrietta Street area. The man attempted to stop me from walking past him and tried to grab me as I tried to move out of his way. I decided to warn other people on the Swansea University Overheard Facebook page to be careful and cautious. A couple of men further harassed me by making inappropriate comments and blaming me for the incident. One said, “you probably loved the attention…”, which gave me the idea to create a group on Facebook for women, specifically female students at Swansea, Group for Women at Swansea, where they can speak out freely without the fear of being judged or trolled by people. I received many messages from members of the group telling me about their experiences and how the group helped them to feel more confident to be more vocal about them. I also received supportive messages from members regarding my experience, asking if I was okay or if I needed a place to hide, and that I am welcome to go to theirs if nearby. Not only does this go for me, but also other members of the women’s group.
The main point for the creation of Group for Women at Swansea is to build up a community of women where we can help one another out. Many ideas are being suggested by different members of the group about how we can feel safe in the city of Swansea.
One member suggested for universities to use more of their expenditure on legal safety gadgets for women, such as alarms or legal spray identifiers.
I also believe that the lack of streetlights in the streets of Swansea is another issue. Many women walk alone at night to get home, and the lack of streetlights puts us in more danger. However, physical safety is not the only thing women need. We also need to be mentally protected. What I mean by this is that there are people out there cat-calling, victim-blaming or verbally harassing women in the streets and on social media platforms. Suggesting that the local secondary schools in Swansea could introduce a curriculum on sexual harassment to their students and its nature on how it widely affects people could be beneficial.
Developing on the idea of social media, and linking it to universities in Swansea, staff members of universities should investigate reports from their female students even further.
Numbers of women (who will remain anonymous) have come forward regarding incidents that occurred in Swansea University or UWSTD, and told me that the universities often do not reprimand students who were reported even with evidence; I also believe that the universities must actively check their emails, as a way to gather these reports and act upon them.
I do not think that the Full-Time-Officers or the Part-Time-Officers should have to handle these incidents by themselves but with further help from the university staff. Together, we could make further progress in helping female students in Swansea feel safe again. I am not blaming the universities for the incident whatsoever, as I am well-aware that the universities know about the many incidents being reported, but some are also being ignored. Therefore, we are asking for further help for female students to feel more confident, safe, and comfortable around the city of Swansea by possibly having more contact with the police, hiring more security guards around campuses or, as I have mentioned, being more active with social media platforms/emails.
We could all help each other by encouraging students and the locals of Swansea to share awareness for this specific social matter on their social media, and other ways of promoting anti-sexual harassment matters.