This week, police investigations confirmed that a body had been found and a suspect had been arrested. Cases of abduction and murder are always upsetting to hear, but leading up to International Women’s Day, these events have proved particularly triggering for women across the UK.
This weekend, hundreds of women defied police orders by gathering at Clapham Common to hold a vigil for Sarah Everard. Once again, women are fighting for their right to live without fear of being killed.
Women are not safe. Time and time again, we’ve fought for this fact to be made crystal clear. But how many more tragedies will it take for men to finally listen? Because the conversations that are emerging around a narrative of #notallmen are concerning and damaging.
‘It’s not all men. But it could be any man.’
In the UK, a woman is killed by a man every three days. Women have every right to express their concerns – without having to also filter their experiences to cater to men who identify as decent human beings.
Everard’s story has encouraged thousands of women to speak out about their own experiences on feeling unsafe outside of their homes. They range in age, race and location but have one thing in common: women are tired of living in constant fear of the unknown.
The trend on Tik Tok – ‘use this audio if you feel unsafe in an Uber‘ – exists for a reason. At some point in her life, every woman has dreaded that walk back home. Looking at the shadows in front of you, carefully listening to the voices trailing behind you, crossing the road, having your keys in your hand, pretending to be on your phone, hiding your phone in case the light draws attention. These are just a handful of things on a list that keeps getting bigger.
‘To never return home again – this could be the fate of any woman.’
This is the daily reality for women across the world. And no, the perpetrator doesn’t have to be a criminal with a record. The man being questioned for suspicion of kidnap and murder is a MET protection officer. He is someone’s husband. He is someone’s son. And to the woman he murdered, he was a complete stranger.
Sarah Everard did everything a woman is told to do. She wore bright clothing, she called her boyfriend on the way home, she stuck to well-lit streets.Daily Record
The ‘not all men’ trope is no longer a justified response to a woman’s tragedy. Women do not owe men kinder words when it comes to trauma inflicted at the hands of other men. Even if it isn’t murder, it’s rape. Or it’s domestic abuse. If it isn’t domestic abuse, it’s assault or harassment.
It’s not as if women only face harm outdoors. It’s indoors too. Yet men too often use their title as father or brother as a rebuke. Do these titles only come to mind when avoiding being tarred with the same brush?
Every time women walk outside, ‘kind and strong’ Sarah’s face will always come to mind when they think about how their night will end. I just hope that it’s as vivid a picture for every man that has the privilege to roam as he pleases.