violence against women

Image from Strut Safe's Instagram.

In March 2021, a woman named Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered in South London as she was walking home.

Simply walking home alone at night proved to be life-threatening. But this aspect of the story is no new news. Women have long shared their fears on the subject.

Constant glances over the shoulder and walking with keys between the fingers have become well-known protection rituals against potential violence. And these efforts, though necessary measures of self defense, can at times feel like small band-aids over a larger wound.

As Alice Jackson and Rachel Chung, two students in Edinburgh, attended one of Everard’s vigils, an idea struck them. And it’s helping women in the U.K. gain not only a sense of safety, but something else too. Something of equal immense value.


Jackson and Chung together created Strut Safe, a volunteer organization where women can request a pair of volunteers to escort them home, or stay on the phone with them while they are in transit.

According to Strut Safe’s website, all volunteers are vetted and subject to a strict code of conduct. And as of now, they have more than 50 volunteers across the U.K.

In an interview with indy100, Chung shared how Everard’s death inspired a call to create change.

“The idea of ‘she was just walking home’ was, I think, a very prominent idea. So many of us don’t always feel safe when walking home so we basically decided that we wanted to put something structurally and tangible in place that anybody could call…We wanted to be the universal number for people to get in touch with if they feel unsafe walking home,” she explained.

“The view we take is if we’re there on the phone with you, we’re there with you in live time so if something did happen we are going to be able to alert the authorities,” she added, likening it to “being a professional friend.”

So just what is a phone call like? Well, that depends.

Sometimes, it’s merely gossip. Other times, “you come off a 20-minute call that's been really emotionally intense, really serious,” Chung tells BBC News. “The caller might have been running at the end, crying. And then you'll hang up, and you're sitting on your sofa, the telly paused, and there'll be silence.”

Though the goal is to be available every night, Strut Safe currently runs its services Friday and Saturday nights between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday night from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

That goal might not be too far off, as social media has added exponential visibility to the service. Currently Strut Safe has more than 70,000 followers on Instagram.

Writing this, I can’t help but be reminded of a Twitter thread, created by activist Danielle Muscato, which went viral back in 2018.

Muscato asked women what they would do if men had a 9 p.m. curfew. The answers were both eye-opening and heartbreaking. Running with both earbuds in, enjoying quiet nighttime strolls, looking up at the stars are some examples.

The answers, though varied, all have a similar theme: freedom.

Muscato's thread offered some long-overlooked insight as to just how un-free many women felt over something easily taken for granted.

Luckily, the volunteers at Strut Safe are helping to change this narrative and helping women reclaim empowerment through their services.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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