Image Credit: @lamasqwerty
The country’s devastated by the disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah Everard over the last week, and it’s certainly struck a chord with so many women. The hashtag #SarahEverard has trended overnight, as women take to the internet to show their thoughts and share their own stories. If there’s one thing we can take away from this devastating story, it’s that it’s only one of too many to count.
When the thing we’ve feared since becoming teenagers can happen despite taking every precaution, it becomes clear that provision isn’t enough.
When Sarah walked back from a friend’s house at 9 pm last Wednesday, she took the precautions we’ve always been told to when we feel threatened walking at night: she stuck to main roads, wore bright colours, called her boyfriend, but that wasn’t enough. We could make a list of all the measures you could take to protect yourself, but that wouldn’t help as much as stopping these men’s mindsets would.
In fact, sometimes the pressing of these precautions and their reinforcement can begin to feel like a tool for victim-blame: any woman who forgets to do these things, or doesn’t do enough of them to ward off an attacker, might be seen as the reason it happened, not because a man made the active choice to threaten her.
Just a simple scroll through socials will tell you how hauntingly common these things are and how every walk down an alley, bus ride in the dark, or taxi ride at night can be such a stressful thing for any and every woman. What’s more, the discussion proves the conversation needs to be redirected, it’s no longer about making women less vulnerable – it’s about making these men less barbaric.
The Guardian recently shared the statistic that 97% of young women in the UK have been sexually assaulted, an unbelievable percentage that’s actually pretty believable. Deniers will say “not all men”, an unnecessary phrase that acts as an excuse for individuals or a means to end or antagonize discussions about rape, violence, and systemic oppression against women. But this phrase in itself is stopping men from being educated, stopping people from learning the harsh truth that so many women have to deal with when going anywhere alone.
We need to change our attitude to this problem because something that is proven time and time again is that blocking the shot doesn’t stop the gun from firing.
Until we can feel as safe alone at night as men can, there is no equality, and we’ll remember Sarah Everard as a catalyst of this realisation.
These are links to petitions, activists, and sites for any information or help that might warrant change:
Words By Daisy Greetham