WOMEN councillors quoted “heart-breaking” words left on tributes to Sarah Everard as they came together to call on men to change their behaviour. 

In a series of powerful speeches, Glasgow councillors told tragic stories of violence against women and spoke of their anger, sadness and tiredness. 

Men must hold other men to account to create safer spaces for everyone, the council agreed. 

The discussion was sparked by a motion – which passed without opposition – brought forward by SNP councillor Jennifer Layden after cross-party work with Labour and Green members. 

Glasgow Times:

Ms Everard, 33, was found dead after she disappeared while walking home in South London. A police officer has been charged with kidnap and murder. 

A vigil to commemorate all victims of gender-based violence will be held in Glasgow when Covid-19 restrictions allow, after councillors agreed to work with local Reclaim These Streets organisers. 

Cllr Layden said: “Women and girls find themselves at a very young age in a secret club they don’t want to belong to. 

“One where we have codewords to hint about the experiences we have had. 

“One where late-night messages of mutual support are exchanged and we make promises, saying that this won’t continue, and these promises go broken. 

“It happens again, and the cycle starts over.” 

Glasgow Times:

Cllr Layden said the content of some of the tributes left across the city had been “heart-breaking”. 

In the messages she read out, a woman told how she had been drugged and raped. 

Tributes from the parks will be stored by Glasgow Women’s Library. 

Cllr Kim Long said the 32 women councillors came together on the co-written motion, following “the stream of grief and anger pouring forth from women and girls and gender on-conforming people” in recent weeks. 

Reading a quote from the park gates, she said: “I am 65-year-old, I have had a lifetime of men behaving badly towards women, with almost no repercussions.  

“I so hoped things would be different for my daughter and I’m so saddened and disappointed that they are not.” 

Glasgow Times:

The councillor said: “Women have been saying the same thing for generations. The question is who is listening.” 

To men, she added: “I hope you’re uncomfortable, discomfort might lead to questioning, thinking about how you wield your power as a man.” 

In another speech, Bailie Marie Garrity said: “I won’t go into detail about the years of physical, mental and sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my abusive husband. 

“But over 20 years since escaping that situation, I am still affected today by the mental and physical scars.” 

She added: “Memories they never, ever fade. So, rest in peace, Sarah, there but for the grace of God, go I.” 

Cllr Aileen McKenzie, who also worked on the motion, talked about “coercive control” and toxic masculinity. 

She said: “So you buy a woman a drink, so what? She owes you nothing. 

“She doesn’t owe you a drink, she doesn’t owe you sex, she owes you nothing. You hear the word ‘no’ or ‘stop’, you stop. 

“You don’t carry on, you don’t harass, you don’t stalk her.” 

Councillors were asked to consider their leadership role in tackling gender-based violence. 

Cllr Laura Doherty said: “I’m tired, I’m sad and I’m above all angry. This can’t continue to be accepted as our lived reality. 

“I’m tired of having to do calculations and equations in safety to get from A to B at night. 

“I’m sad that my friends and I always end catch-ups with the phrase ‘text me when you’re home safe’. 

“I’m angry because a woman can do all that and more and still end up dead. In order to change the culture, we need to hold everyone to account. 

“Men especially need to step up and hold other men accountable for their words and their actions.” 

And Cllr Rhiannon Spear said men needed to listen and reflect on their actions or inaction. 

“You are complicit when you raise no voice of objection,” she said. 

“Why do women have to continually share our trauma like some kind of pornography? 

“Graphic details of our trauma shared to a stone wall of intransigence and inaction.” 

She said women navigate a “systemically patriarchal society, where my safety is never a surety”. 

“A patriarchal society where men continue to harass, rape and murder with impunity, while survivors are vilified as liars and opportunists.”