A safe walk downtown

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Recent sexual assault incidents spread awareness about risks of heading home alone

The arrest of 33-year-old Sofyan Boalag was big news in St. John’s from the moment the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary announced Monday night that a man had been apprehended in connection with the sexual assault of a woman leaving the downtown area the night before.

Users of social media websites shared news of the arrest with friends, as they had done with earlier stories published online concerning recent cases of sexual assault involving female victims.

Prior to Boalag’s arrest, the RNC had warned that women walking alone at night may have been at increased risk.

When the Sunday morning assault was first reported, the RNC said it was considering the possibility it was linked to a pair of recent incidents involving assaults in the same general area. Boalag has not been charged in relation to either of those prior incidents.

Standing on George Street beside a bronze statue, Tara Nicholls said if anything, attention paid to the recent reports of assault will help make the public more aware of the risks of walking at night in the downtown area.

“I’m sure (the risk) has always been there,” said Nicholls. “It could always be a possibility for anyone, at any time, but now that it’s in the public, it just makes the people that are coming downtown on the weekends more aware of their surroundings. This should be a thing that you should be thinking of any time. Even if it doesn’t happen, it should be in the back of your mind.”

The Telegram went to the George Street area early Wednesday evening to ask people about trying to stay safe when leaving the downtown area late at night.

Sam Melendy said he is glad to hear police have made an arrest in connection with the Sunday morning assault.

“I’m glad this guy is off the street, if it was him,” said Melendy, referring to the fact Boalag’s case is still before the court. “It’s something everyone has to be careful of. I know my friend the other day said that a couple of years ago, his girlfriend worked downtown, walked home and never worried about it. He doesn’t feel as comfortable about that now.”

Tracy Brenner was surprised to hear of the recent assaults involving people leaving the downtown area.

“Coming from Calgary, I could walk home at 3 a.m. and not worry about it,” she said. “And now I’m like, yeah, I’m going to get somebody to walk me to my car in the dark.”

Not afraid

Karen Smith says she feels no more fearful than she used to in light of recent events.

“I did hear that people who work in the bars here are getting walked to their cars by the bouncers and whatnot,” she said. “I don’t frequent here, and especially not at three or four in the morning. I’ve never felt concerned.”

A young woman passing through George Street with a friend on her way to a St. John’s IceCaps game said she would not be inclined to walk alone from the area late at night.

“Alone is probably not a good option,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name.

Melendy suggests it’s a good move to surround yourself with people you trust when heading downtown for drinks.

“Be sure to choose good company when you go out on a spree,” he said.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

 

Geographic location: George Street, Calgary

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Recent comments

  • DRJ
    December 13, 2012 - 08:48

    I have been going to George St for years but for the past 10 years or so, I try to get out of there before midnight or so. I also watch where I park. The area has changed, for the worse.

  • Ginger
    December 13, 2012 - 07:51

    I really believe that each person should take precaution and be accompinied at all times during the night...its not just in St.Johns, crime is everywhere, including sexual aSsaults, so why would you not protect yourself from this happening? Its time people use some common sense and get with the program...things do unfortunatly happen---Sickos are everywhere, and yes in a perfect world, we should all be able to walk freely without having the fear of being attacked...but that is NOT the case...so why not do your part and protect yourself--walking anywhere alone at 3 or 4 in the morning is putting yourself at risk....bottom line...just don't do it!

  • P F Murphy
    December 13, 2012 - 06:49

    It is our duty as citizens to do everything we can to make sure that no one, man or woman, needs to worry about walking alone at any time in our city, our province, our Canada.