While a vigil is scheduled to take place in the city a week after her death the sense of national outrage has not been anywhere near as charged as that following the killing of Ashling Murphy.
That does not imply that for this society - far right excluded - the life of Geila Ibram was worth less than that of Ms Murphy. Women, whatever their nationality or employment, continue to face the same dangers whether they work in the teaching profession or the sex industry. For those who want to start ranting about foreign nationals posing a threat to women in Irish society, the name Larry Murphy has a home grown ring to it.
The woman organising the vigil, Cllr Elisa O’Donovan of the Social Democrats, identified the problem:
Geila was murdered in our community. To die in such violent and horrific circumstances is unthinkable to me. I am numbed that this extreme violence against women is becoming too frequent in our lives.
It is a frequency that shows no sign of abating.
We never quite know why one event captures the public imagination and ignites the national mood. So there is little point in claiming that because the victim was a Romanian national rather than Irish or that she might have been a sex worker, these are factors that might explain the reason for the absence of nationwide vigils. Fortunately, people who hate women for their nationality or their work in the informal economy are a small minority in modern Ireland.
The murdered woman had been in the country only three weeks. She most likely came to make her living only to have someone else make her dying. Her misfortune was to have met the wrong person. An Afghan national, Habib Shamel, appeared in a Belfast court charged with her murder. The PSNI gave evidence during the hearing which suggested that Geila Ibram and her would be killer had a short conversation prior to her death for the purpose of "arranging a sexual exchange". Her killer was in her flat for less than two minutes during which she was subjected to a “vicious and frenzied attack”, in the course of which she received stab wounds to the neck, face and abdomen. The person wielding the knife went there on a search and destroy mission.
Amazingly the accused man's legal team asked for bail on the grounds that the Prison Service could not accommodate his religious beliefs in addition to there being concern for his mental health. A Rasta might ask for bail on similar grounds, claiming that the prison cannot accommodate smoking weed. It is a nonsense plea and the presiding judge gave it short shrift. Religious privilege should have no purchase on any society's justice system.
What the reference to the accused''s religious opinion does do is to raise the possibility that Geila Ibram might have been the victim of a religious thug. Regardless of what other shortages might exist in the world, religious hatred is harvested in abundance. Hate Theology is one of those phenomena where the altar brims with feast and never famine.
Holy book in one hand, a knife in the other. An enduring trait across both history and culture. The Irish national flag should protect people from hate, not promote it.
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