Following three attacks on young women in Manchester’s city centre since the end of January, police have sent out a warning, urging women around the area to be wary when walking late and to avoid being alone.
The three women were alone in the early hours of the morning on each separate occasion and were thought to have been attacked by the same man, described as: Asian, late 20s to early 30s, clean shaven, carrying a ‘Blacks’ umbrella, and wearing jeans and a dark blue coat.
The first attack occurred on January 30th around 3.30am along Oxford Road during which a 19-year-old woman was approached by the man who sexually assaulted her before continuing to follow her to Whitworth Street before attempting another attack. Thankfully, she managed to escape.
The second attack took place on Saturday February 6th at around 4am and involved a 22-year-old woman who was assaulted twice before escaping. The incident occurred as she was walking along Kent Road West and the attacker fled immediately after.
On Wednesday March 2nd around 4.20am, as a 21-year-old woman waited for a taxi on Oldham Street. She was approached and assaulted by a man of a similar description.
A similar assault took place on Feburary 14th on Minshull Street between 1.50am and 2.05am before the man walked off towards Canal Street. However, this is thought to have no relation to the other attacks around it and this attacker is still being searched for.
Images of the suspect, believed to be responsible for all three attacks, were released two weeks ago and Greater Manchester Police’s Detective Constable Steve Lowton explained that the images had been shown “in the hope that somebody may recognise this man and be able to assist with our investigation”.
Until more news of the whereabouts of this suspect is brought forward, women around Manchester are pressed to be extra cautious; to stay in groups when out at night and to travel only with licensed transport.
Jess Lishak women’s officer for the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union told The Mancunion: “It’s really disappointing to see the police reverting to victim blaming again, telling women to ‘not walk alone at night’ in order to somehow prevent themselves being sexually assaulted. Perhaps Greater Manchester Police should concentrate on policing criminals and catching the man they believe is responsible for these sexual assaults rather than policing women’s behaviour. But more than that, these ‘safety tips’ aren’t viable. Women don’t have the option to be accompanied everywhere we go, unless GMP are suggesting that they’ll foot the bill for this. These “safety tips” don’t protect us from over 90% of rapes that are committed by perpetrators who we’ve known, trusted and often even loved.
It’s statements like this from the police which create the culture where victims of sexual violence are more likely to suffer in silence than tell the police due to a fear of not being believed, that they’ll be blamed and are unlikely to see justice”.
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