The tragic disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard has opened up Pandora's box. A mature discussion on violence against women, I think, is long overdue. Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was reported missing on the 3rd of March, whilst she made a short journey home from a friend's house in Clapham.
Leaving at around 9pm, Everard was last captured on CCTV at 9:32pm, and was never seen again. Her case was profoundly unsettling for me. After all, she did what we women are supposed to do, right?
If walking home alone, women are told to:
She did everything she was 'supposed' to do, yet, it wasn't enough. This isn't just an isolated case, either. In 2016 children's writer Helen Bailey went missing in Hertfordshire and her body was discovered three months later. She was just walking her dogs.
That is what terrifies me. Are we not safe to walk the streets at night? Must women alter their behaviour, cover up their body, and look behind them every two minutes just to get home safe?
Some conversations I've had with men over the past week stink of ignorance. After UN Women reported that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually abused or assaulted, I saw a comment online claiming that 'some women would be lucky to be sexually assaulted'. Further, a thousand times I have heard the deflection that 'it happens to men too'.
This is a symptom of a problem deeply ingrained into modern Britain. I would never deny that crimes like these happen to men. To suggest that women are the only victims would be highly prejudiced of me. Yet, whenever women speak up about their experiences they are continually shut down because it's clearly not seen as important enough of an issue.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community are also continuously targeted as victims of hate crime. A lesbian couple was assaulted on a bus in 2019, a transgender student was publicly assaulted in August of last year. Both of these were motivated by the identity of the victims. These targeted crimes need to stop.
The fact is, we are not safe. The case of Sarah Everard proves that no matter what you do, what precautions you take, and how safe you think you are, there is always a chance you could be harmed.
The imbalance is this:
Men will never understand how it feels. And that is most of the problem. Educate yourself, your children, especially your sons, on the day-to-day dangers life throws at you, and why we need to work together to make the streets safe for everyone.
Moving forward from this tragic case, I hope that we as a collective can stand up to crimes like these, and urge each other to stop this violence. This isn't about demonizing men. I would never want to see that happen. Rather, we need to recognise the damage, pain and hurt caused by the families and friends who lost friends to crimes like these.
Sarah Everard was a victim. A victim whose name will be remembered in one of Britain's most shockingly evil crimes.
She was just walking home.
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