“MURDER is murder is murder,” asserted Margaret Thatcher in 1980 when she rejected a prescient warning from Charles Haughey that her hardline position on the H Block hunger strikes would, in the longer term, be a boon for the Provos.
The same unwavering force can be applied to the phrase: “Sexual harassment is sexual harassment is sexual harassment ...” There is no room for ambiguity, no room for the nudge-nudge or the leery wink, or the beery cheers offering cover for an offender. Sexual harassment is always wrong, unacceptable, and always an attack on a person’s dignity.
In recent days a young woman — Laura Duncliffe — has taken a brave stand against what she describes as routine sexual harassment on the streets of night-time Cork. She described how she was shocked when a man pulled up her skirt as she walked down Washington St. Initially she pushed to one side the idea of reporting the incident to the gardaí — as so many other victims of sexual harassment do — but she shared her experience online and received tremendous support, replicated by gardaí when she made a complaint. Ms Duncliffe was right to complain, and right to expect to be able to walk through any town or city without facing the threat of sexual harassment. Most of all she was right to expose the Neanderthal mindset behind this pathetic behaviour. It is time to adopt a far less tolerant attitude to this form of abuse.
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