Sarah Everard; The Safety of Women

TW: Mentions of violence, sexual harassment and death. One year, almost to the day we entered the first National Lockdown in England. It has been a year of little highs and too many lows. The media hones in on newsworthy stories, which in recent weeks have been hard hearing. Today, I want to talk about the horrific death of Sarah Everard and the movement to making women safe.

A short tribute

I would like to pay tribute to Sarah Everard, who tragically died whilst walking home. Ms Everard, a 33-year-old woman, killed in innocence by a stranger. Working police officer Wayne Couzens is currently in custody after being arrested for Sarah’s murder; Mr Couzens will go on trial this coming Autumn. Over the last week, the incident has struck women across the globe with sadness, anger and the desire to fight for the right to walk in confidence.

As a woman myself, I fear the streets we live on and the men who walk right by me; It isn’t all men, but outstanding statistics put them under scrutiny. UN Women, a gender equality platform say,

“71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in a public space – with young women, in particular, reporting high incidence.”

And, according to WHO, the ‘World Health Organisation’

“One in three women, around 736 million, are subject to physical or sexual violence,”

The full truth of Sarah’s Everard’s death is yet to surface, which must be incredibly difficult for her family and friends. I hope that the public can respect their privacy and need to grieve. More than ever, many of us know how difficult grieving has been throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Response from the Public.

People should also know that expressing your thoughts on social media, for example, could put you in ‘contempt of court’. Influencing a court case in any way could affect the fairness and the overall outcome. Reflection back to Sarah’s friends and Sarah’s family who will look for answers throughout the investigation.

Over the last weekend, vigils have taken place in London causing chaos and further dispute between civilians and the police. I feel the turn of events diverged into something hostile, irrespective and against the initial values of the gathering.

Like many, I agree that more than ever, people must hear the voice of women instead of sexualising us for unpleasant satisfaction. However, there are courteous and lawful ways to protest our needs.

The government is working hard to enforce new laws and make the streets of England safe. PM Boris agrees with Keir Starmer that, following the cry from the murder of Ms Everard, this must be a ‘turning point’ of violence against women.

Our safety

There are several changes that are needed to make women and girls feel safe walking through a park, or even visiting a local supermarket. An alarming number of females fear going out at night, or even walking in remote areas alone.

Already, The Government has identified the need for change, but what will they actually do?

  • The Safer Streets fund reinvested, to ensure that there is sufficient street lighting and cctv across the country.
  • A potential pilot scheme of ‘down dressed’, or undercover police officers to patrol ‘nightlife’, where women are more vulnerable to sexual violence/harassment.
  • Stricter laws for those committing sexual offences, or involved in serious violence.

For me, the recognition from authority is a starting point, but it is not the ultimate solution. Offences against women happen every day, to people that we know and in ways that are inhumane. It is going to take years to unpick the trauma. It is going to take more than a world of surveillance cameras to make women feel comfortable.

“She was only walking home.”

Here are some websites and helplines available, if you or someone you know is being affected by sexual violence: Victim Support, Mind Charity, Refuge, Metropolitan Police, Hourglass, National Stalking Helpline.

Heather Davey

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