Thursday 18 July 2019

'Courts shouldn't be talking about lacy thongs'

Clothes worn by survivors of rape and sexual assault went on display at IT Sligo in an exhibition entitled 'Non Consent'.

This was the first time the exhibition had come to a third level instituition and organisers said they hope it will raise awareness of the issue of consent.

The exhibition, which was organised by Shaneda Daly and Ruth Maxwell, displays clothing such as a Communion dress, to a woman's running clothes and a man's pair of underwear.

Ms Daly is the founder of Facebook page 'Survivors Side by Side' which offers support to survivors of sexual assault.

Ms Daly, a survivor of sexual assault herself, waived her right to anonymity so her father could be named following his trial for the sustained abuse.

Ms Maxwell was attacked and seriously injured by a man wielding a knife in 2016 while she made her way to work.

It later transpired that he had attacked and sexually assaulted other women.

Speaking to The Sligo Champion at the exhibition, Ms Maxwell said bringing the exhibition to colleges was part of their 'vision to raise awareness within the educational system'.

For Ms Daly, she believes colleges are 'the most important places' for the exhibition to be displayed.

"If we could get it into secondary schools, personally, I believe it all starts with education at a young age.

"Letting them see the exhibitions here, the clothing, letting them know what's right and wrong. Education is key."

Asked what she hoped would be the take home message from the exhibition, Ms Daly said for people to realise they can speak out.

The Clare woman told those gathered that she set up a support group during the process of bringing her father to court for sexually abusing her since she was a toddler until she was 18.

"As a person that was sexually abused, the hardest thing to do is speak out but you cannot move forward in your life until you actually speak...By looking at this ordinary clothing I hope it will make people think, the courts shouldn't be talking about lacy thongs."

Addressing the gathering on the main concourse of I.T Sligo an emotional Ms Maxwell said, 'I got away with my life' and that she knew she could not bring the exhibition on the road until her trial had ended.

Ms Maxwell said she hoped the exhibition would raise awareness in all other colleges and described the exhibition as 'really tough and moving' and hoped it would encourage people to 'be kind' and listen.

Sligo Champion