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Men need to ask themselves how they can be better allies to women, says Blair

Men need to ask themselves what they can do to be better allies to women and to challenge problematic behaviour from fellow men, Alliance MLA John Blair has said.

South Antrim MLA Mr Blair was speaking during an Assembly debate following the murder of Sarah Everard in England. The 33-year-old’s remains were found in woodland in Kent and a police officer has been charged with her kidnap and murder.

“This debate, which follows in the wake of national reflecting about the matter of violence by men against women, highlights men are the culprits and women are the victims, and we need to address and tackle that fact before we can move forward with this issue,” said Mr Blair.

“We can’t address concerns for women’s safety without putting men at the centre of the discussion. We also need to address directly the fact women of colour and trans women are at particular risk.

“When a police officer was arrested, Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged women in London and beyond will be worried and may well be feeling scared, although she said for a woman to be abducted off the street was an ‘incredibly rare’ event. The fact is, it is not incredibly rare, nor is it a localised issue in London.

“Five women have died in suspected violent circumstances in Northern Ireland since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. Women should be able to walk the streets free from harm, fear and threat. Research shows across the UK, 1,425 women were killed in the 10 years to 2018 – 90 per cent were done by men. I’m asking men do as much as they can to prevent brothers, partners, friends or colleagues becoming another statistic.”