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The rest of the English papers are all really and dominated by this story of Sarah Everett. And this is a story that really has, I think not just in England but here as well. It really has been has taken off as a campaigner says here. It has it has opened a wound and know what's going on today is that as a killer is being charged and appearing in court. But there is an issue now developing around people who want to take to the streets and protest and go to class and come and have a vigil and all that.
And the police are saying we feel really bad about this, but we cannot allow this to happen. But there's a great quote here from a woman called Nemko Ali, a government adviser and campaigner tackling violence against women.
She said that this is a collective grief and she said it's like our wounds have been reopened.
But when a wound open, when a wound opens up, there's this is a good moment to use antibiotics. This is a moment to use our platforms and our privileges and make sure we bring about change.
And to that end, I want to talk now to Natasha Merta, who is a reporter for RTI News and Current Affairs. Good morning, Natasha.
Good morning, Brendan. Now, Natasha, this week you reposted an article you wrote for the Irish Times five years ago, I think, and it's caused quite a commotion online. So maybe if you don't mind, we'll start at the beginning of the story. It's 2014. You were backpacking around the world. You ended up in Panama. You were seven months there, I think. And then tell me what happened on your final night when you went to you got a water taxi.
So I got in the water taxi from a from the taxi rank. It was a registered licenced taxi. So that wasn't a situation of me being silly. And the boat left the dark. And about five minutes into the journey when I was in black water and quite far away from the place that I needed to get the taxi man cut the engine off.
OK, and Natasha, I just interrupt for one sec, if you don't mind. I should say that if people have kids listening or anything, just the next couple of minutes, maybe they might want to send them into another room for a sec. Sorry, Natasha, go ahead.
No problem. So the the engine was cut off. And I remember I was sitting at the front of the boat and I remember when I turned around, the taxi man was looking at me and I remember thinking that if the engine had cut off by accident, he'd probably be looking at the engine. But he was looking at me. And so I thought, this is a little scary. And basically there was there was a bit of a you know, he started moving towards the boat and started towards the front of the boat.
He was asking me to pay for lunch. And I gave him the ten dollars that I had. And he I was wearing strapless dress at the time and he pulled us down, exposing my chest. And I can't remember how long this went on for probably five seconds, but I ended up getting out of the boat and into the water. And I just remember hearing the engine come back on and I was called back into the boat. This whole thing was terrifying and I just didn't know what to do and what was going to happen.
But I said to this man, you know, I'm pleading, please don't stop all this kind of stuff. And then I said, if you do anything to hurt me. Laughter Miguel will kill you. And Rafa Miguel is a local man from Bogota tomorrow, which is the area that I was living in. And he is this six foot to kind of hero. He's got, you know, six kids. He's got dreadlocks down to his knees.
And he was the chef and the resource that I was working in. And we kind of became friends and he taught me how to cook Caribbean food. And I ended up taking over from him while he went away on holidays. And he was one of these people. That's when we went to the mainland to get vegetables and fruit and stuff. I would be walking along side. And then I felt really into, you know, everyone would say hello to the everyone knew him.
And so when I was in this boat, in this terrible situation, I said, if you do anything to hurt me, trust him again, I will kill you. And the whole situation immediately changed. And he turned the engine back on. And he said, yes, he said stuff like, I was joking, I'm sorry, I was just joking. You didn't need to get in the water. And I just remember feeling the most awful pain on my back and the whole back into the boat.
And so the boat got to the dock where the Garden of Eden, the resource I was working and was. And I jumped out of the boat and I ran straight up to the main building where my bosses gave them to a lovely couple of guys who ran the resort. They were sleeping bags. And I burst into their room. Berrocal And, you know, I remember Dave getting out of the room and I went to sleep in this bed with her that night and the next day.
And as you said, this is the last day both of Deltour after seven months of being there and nothing like this happening. So unfortunate. But it was my last day there. And in the morning, Sue was asking me what I wanted to do about this. And I just I just want to go. I just want to leave. I wanted to leave Panama. And she said, well, look, we've actually called the girl and we told him what happened.
And she's very, very upset. And so Miguel came to the Garden of Eden and there was absolutely no question what was going to happen. I was getting in that boat with Miguel and we were going to the water taxi ranks and I was to identify the man. And so we did this and I, I he was there. And there was no question of whether or not he was the person and she had his licence was stripped from him. He was never going to be a taxi driver again.
And I thought, wow, this is a real results. You know, I actually made a difference here. Miguel has made a difference here. But Miguel quite, quite wisely said, unfortunately, this is still a man's world, that he will probably have that licence back again in a month. So Miguel went to the man's house and he told the man's wife what he did. And I think that was the real yeah, I would I was the bit of rough justice I was going to work on.
Listen, you wrote a blog about this, and it ended up in the Irish Times five years ago. And so five years ago is a long time ago in some ways. Tell me about the reaction that you got at the time to telling your story. I know it's going back, as you said, five years. So I think of 22. And it's kind of embarrassing because I don't think the article was written very well. But I wasn't a journalist back then.
But I so I wrote this thing and I was thinking, gosh, this is really exciting. You know, I've told a very brave story and it's going to be in those times. And, you know, then I stupidly started reading these comments and they were also they were saying that I was a stupid girl that was encouraging reckless behaviour. There was a lot of controversy over my shorts that I was wearing. And like, if you look at the image, I am a tomboy.
I you know, in the image I'm wearing, you know, orange baggy shorts and a black T-shirt and the comments around those shorts, you know, a woman wouldn't come and said, my my daughter wouldn't even wear that in Ireland, let alone a foreign country. You know, your fears, the whole point of it. And she said, good, then my daughter is not an exhibitionist. Was the last line was in it. And there was a lot of kind of cover up and, you know, all that kind of thing.
And then you reposted it this week with some of those responses. I did, yeah. Yeah. I wasn't you know, International Women's Day was the other day and I didn't want to post a picture of, you know, my lovely mom or my wonderful female friends saying these are the wonderful women around me, you know, blah, blah, blah. I didn't want to put it into a kind of Celsius. The climate at the moment. There's really much to celebrate being a woman right now.
And so I just didn't post anything or tweet anything or whatever. And then it was when the news of that poor woman, Sarah, in the UK came out. And it's really sort of made my blood boil because she literally was just trying to get home. And that's that's what I was trying to do. I was just trying to get home. And she was she was murdered and makes me hear you in the discourse of people slightly blaming her for four years to get home.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I, I read so many comments saying, why didn't she get a taxi? I mean, why was she race? No, she didn't get a taxi because, you know, she was 50 minutes from home. It wasn't about me. It was warm. She wanted to walk. Why are we OK? Why didn't she go talk to him? And just so ridiculous. Natasha, I suppose it started a whole other broader conversation now.
And I think that, you know what? Like I, I have to admit, I'm learning a lot in the last few days myself. One of the things that's been spoken about a lot, for example, is that women, when they're walking alone at night, will often have their keys key sticking out in their hand, ready for if anyone attacks them. And of course, they're making the point we shouldn't have to do this. We shouldn't have to be afraid.
And we've talked before about your travels. And there were there were other incidents on your travels. And I know you were determined not to let it put you off travelling, but I know you say it does make you more wary as well than.
Yeah. And I was saying this to your researcher yesterday, and I want to just say it again. I don't want to scare moms and dads listening to this and make them think, God, I'm not going to let my daughter go travelling when she finished university. That's not the message I'm quoting out. You know, the world is a wonderful place. And I do believe that there's more good people than bad people and it's there for exploring. But, yes, we do have to be more careful and be the key in the nocco to the great trick for something that made me feel very safe with I got pepper spray and it was a little key keychain.
And because I don't know if I'd actually be able to use key in between my fingers or a knife or a gun by somebody just to pepper spray. Really good to have, you know, very effective. Thankfully, I never have to use it. But that was one of the things that made me feel safe. And, of course, telling people where you are, where when you're leaving, you know, all of the other stuff. You mean, you know, over the years to go to things.
But it just seems that even even when we walk on the streets, on streets that have CCTV and we text our boyfriend or our dad or mom or whatever before we're leaving, like Saratov, even when we do that, it's not. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, I suppose look, there are things you shouldn't have to do anyway. I know is the kind of conversation at the moment. But I suppose your bigger point is that it did not stop you from living your life the way you wanted to lead it either.
Listen, an interesting little kind of coda to all this is that when you wrote the piece five years ago, I know you got there was no real pick up of the piece at the time, but I believe this week that TV and radio shows were beating your door down, asking you to talk.
Yeah, I, I tweeted this and went to bed and I woke up. I actually woke up to researcher ringing me and after I got off the phone to my son was bananas. And I was like, OK, what did I do? But yes, there was a huge reaction this time around. And I think it's very telling of the current climate. As you said when that was published five years ago, no one contacted me. But now it is so much more important because women are tired or exhausted.
We're angry. We're sick of saying, please don't make me no, I don't want to date you. And I shouldn't have to say why. And no, I can't get home because we're tired of all this stuff. And so we retweeting this now and highlighting all of the comments from people being like, you know, you silly girl, you shouldn't have done this. It just it's playing into the theory that I suppose women around the world right now are feeling it is just I'm tired.
I'm tired of this.
Yeah, I, I hesitate to ask you this because I know it can seem kind of crazy in a way. And, you know, I think women can rightfully say, look, it's not our job to tell men what they need to do now or anything, but any ideas on how to capitalise on this moment and what needs to happen now? Well, I'm just one one girl, I don't have the solution and I'm not an expert or anything, but what I do know is that if it's not working or shouting anymore, you know, women saying, please keep me safe, please help me, please, if it's not working anymore.
So I think we need to bring this narrative and bring this topic of conversation into schools and teach young people to respect other people's bodies and this whole thing of consent and, you know, that whole thing. It needs to be talk about it more when we talk to our kids about it more. And we need to realise less women. We're scared all the time. You know, it's not just about me being in a boat in the Caribbean. It's swimming in the supermarket.
It's women in it in a taxi. It's women. We are it's this this horrible fear, unfortunately, is in the thread of the tapestry of everyday life, you know, not just young women solo travelling around the world, everyday life. And I think that's what we need to teach young people. It's not down dark alley over this about everyday life. You need to be so careful. And teaching it at a young age, I think is possibly the best way to do this.
And we're highlighting. Yeah, sorry, I was just going to say, highlighting the wonderful work this place is like Women's Aid to Dublin rape crisis. And it's like they they are so good supporting women and teaching the right message. And, you know, I think saying to women, any woman listening right now has gone through something awful. Those centres are fantastic and they have a lot of good advice for you. OK, Natasha Marshall, thank you very much for that.
And it stands out starkly there, what you say, which I think a lot of men are hearing properly for the first time this week, that women, a lot of them certainly are just afraid all the time. I remember Louise O'Neill in an interview here last year said to me, you know, women are taught to be afraid. And I'm saying, is that really true? And I think she thought, you don't know this. Yeah. There you go.
Let's take a break.
Brendan O'Connor on our TV, radio one.