How can a woman feel safe in 2021?
Today’s news relaying the truly despicable treatment of Sarah Everard has shocked us all. The information coming out regarding her murder at the hands of a metropolitan police officer is deeply upsetting. I marvel at the bravery of her family for their delivery of the victim impact statement. It’s a remarkable show of courage and I commend their strength of character to have been able to deliver it.
As a woman, for my entire life I have been aware of a general feeling of insecurity. I have always been worried about being in certain situations especially if alone. What has happened to Sarah is the stuff that we as women have feared our entire lives. This woman was simply walking home from a friend’s house when she was openly abducted in front of witnesses.
The Bogey man is supposed to be living in the shadows waiting to pounce. This case highlights yet again that the Bogey man comes in many forms. A predator with the outward appearance of a metropolitan police officer reinforces how unsafe a woman can be.
It feels like femicide is more prevalent than ever right now what with the murder of Sarah and the more recent but equally brutal and violent murders of Sabina Nessa and Terri Harris alongside her 3 children and their friend. It shows that clearly there is a deep rooted problem that needs to be addressed.
Here are some recent statistics to emphasise the importance of societal change – these occurrences should not be happening so easily:
At least 15 serving or former police officers have been responsible for killing women since 2009.
In the year up to March 2020, 207 women were killed in Great Britain meaning that 1 in 4 killings were of women. The previous year was lower, 241 women killed – but this was still the highest number in a decade.
Research from the Femicide Census -an organisation which collects information on men’s violence against women – calculates that across the UK 1425 women were killed by men in the 10 years to 2018. That is about one killing every three days.
In regards to sexual offences in the year ending March 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 4.9 million women had been victims of sexual assault in their lives. This included 1.4 million who had been raped, or had faced an attempted rape.
1 in 40 young women said they had been victims of rape in the past year.
1 in 5 women has been the victim of stalking since the age of 16
A recentYouGov poll for UN Women found that 7 out of 10 women had experienced some form of sexual harassment in public.
The survey found:
- Over half of women had experienced catcalling
- 4 out of 10 had been groped or faced unwelcome touching
- A third of women had been followed
- 1 in 5 had faced indecent exposure.
Acts of violence against women are happening at increasing rates, but just because of the frequency of these acts we must not get desensitised to the horror of it.
For me growing up there was an acceptance that I shouldn’t be out late alone, I shouldn’t walk alone, I shouldn’t dress a certain way. The older I get the more angry I become at this view.
I am not responsible for an act of violence against me. I should not manage this problem. Femicide is not a female problem. We do not encourage nor invite any of this behaviour. We are therefore NOT responsible for its management. We deserve to feel safe and protected within our society and collectively we should all be united in demanding the same thing.
‘Women should not have to endlessly think of ways to manage their safety. We have been doing this all of our lives. We are tired.’ @womens_aid