On Sarah Everard’s death

Erika Armanino considers the right and wrong response

Erika Armanino
24th March 2021
Image: Dr Paul Gilluley on Twitter
From a 6pm curfew for men to undercover police officers to patrol nightclubs. That’s what’s come out of the tragic killing of Sarah Everard. That it fell so close to International Women’s day and the revelation that 97% of young women have been sexually harassed in UK hasn’t helped.

We all agree there is a problem in our society where women are sexually harassed on a daily basis and seen as public objects. However, do we really want to restrict men’s freedom because of that?

Yes, women are more likely to be killed by partners and people they know. According to the Office for National Statistics, in the year leading up to March 2020, 207 women were killed in Great Britain. This means about one in five killings were of women. Every killing is tragic, no matter the gender or race, and needs to be addressed. That said, why does the killing of women make more noise than that of men, especially when it’s less likely? Why are we blaming all men for some sporadic monsters out there? Do we really want our fathers, brothers, partners and friends to be punished for a problem that lies in the overarching social structure?

Instead of proposing curfews, the government should live up to its responsibilities and create an effective education plan for children at school. In an article written in The Tab, some guys were interviewed to understand what they were taught in school about sexual assault. Some of their responses included “Sexual assault was brushed under the carpet”, “It was more focused on embarrassment than consent”, “We discussed consent maybe once” and “They focused on avoiding being assaulted”.

Society, parents and schools should teach boys that women are not sexual objects. This means explaining that women’s bodies are not public property, and that it’s not okay to scream sexual comments at a woman on the street. When children see their dad making sexist comments and their mom saying nothing about it, they grow up thinking that’s normal and that it doesn’t cause any harm.

Davina McCall, an English television presenter, wrote in a tweet “Yes we should all be vigilant when out alone. But this level of fear-lingering isn’t healthy. And men’s mental health is an issue as well. Calling all men out as dangerous is bad for our sons, brothers, partners.”

The problem doesn’t lie in either men or women, but in a misogynist and sexist society that’s not able to teach male individuals how to treat women.

Other women’s reflections on Sarah Everard’s death can be found here and here. Jonathan Mack’s article on why men need to do more, rebuking the #notallmen hashtag, is available here.

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