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2007 National Women's Conference
5 February 2007

Conference sends out its deepest sympathies to the families of the young women recently murdered in Ipswich by a serial killer preying on women working in the sex industry. These tragedies highlight once again the vulnerability of women, who for whatever reason, are out and about at night.

On November 25th 2006, the Eastern Region Women’s Committee took part in the Reclaim the Night march and rally. Women from all over the country marched through London, proclaiming our right to walk the streets at night without fear from men’s violence. Ironically, only a few weeks after this, women from the Eastern Region were being told to stay at home after dark.

Conference finds it unacceptable that when it is men who are the perpetrators of this violence, it is women who are being forced to make changes in the way they go about their lives. The advice for women to stay indoors after dark places the responsibility for men’s behaviour solely on the shoulders of women; women are told that they are putting themselves in danger, or that they are being “irresponsible” if they refuse to abide by what is essentially a curfew on women. However, UNISON members themselves work in jobs that are not traditionally nine to five, for example, many women members work as care workers; nurses; cleaners; police staff; local government workers; environmental health officers, working non-traditional hours, and who will often need to be travelling to and from workplaces during the early morning or late evening.

Conference is also concerned at the media reporting of this tragedy, the instant mythologising of the killer as the “new ripper”, and the concentration on the women’s occupations as prostitutes rather than their status as women, entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of society.

When the debate on the motion ends, conference resolves to hold a one minute silence, in thoughtful contemplation of the tragic and untimely deaths of these five young women:

Tania Nichol; Gemma Adams; Paula Clennell; Anneli Alderton and Annette Nicholls