by Chloe Brennan
Recently in the news the case of Sarah Everard has devastated the nation, a young girl who went missing on her walk back home. The police are investigating a fellow officer in relation to the case, and women all around the UK have come forward in solidarity with Sarah Everard.
Although this sickening event has been overwhelming for many people, it is clear now that something needs to change. Sarah Everard did the things Women are all taught, check behind you, wear sensible shoes, make sure you are in touch with someone; It still was not enough. Whilst women have been angry at the shocking and quite frankly terrifying nature of this case, it has still been infiltrated by arbitrary questions and comments about the events that occurred.
“Why did she walk home alone?”
“Why didn’t she get a taxi?”
“Was she drunk?”
A woman should be able to walk home alone without the fear of something happening to them. Men don’t experience this and so the discussion becomes even more important in order to help educate those who have no way of understanding. We are not going to live our lives in fear because we are women. we will even take all the possible safety measures and yet we are still held responsible for actions out of our control as seen with Sarah Everard’s case. The focus of this case should be to highlight that it isn’t Sarah Everard’s or any OTHER woman’s fault that things happen. If I were walking home alone, drunk and in a short skirt, that is not an invitation to take advantage of me. The only person at fault, in this case, is the person who did this to Sarah, that is the only person anyone should be blaming. To see people argue and invalidate the case shifts the blame onto the victim, yet this is such a common approach when women come forwards about sexual assault - why is it so hard to believe a women’s case?
People are unaware and uneducated on how simple actions instil fear within women. Instead of using the problematic “not all men” tactic, it is important for men to start raising the right questions about how to make women feel safe, there should be a sense of solidarity from men and stories of women's assault should be listened to with compassion and care. Calling out your friends and actively helping women in danger is the way to begin moving forward from the devastating case of Sarah Everard.
Yes, not all men are going to do terrible things to women, but it is too many women that have experienced sexual assault in some form in their life. We don’t know which men are going to hurt women, so out of fear we assume it’s a bigger picture for our own safety. Despite this many people have been asking what they can do to be better, this is something so small but it is the start. This case has sparked outrage in myself and women all over the nation, resulting in protests and vigils in unity with Sarah Everard. Times are changing, and women are on the frontline for a change, there is no longer room for people who wish to belittle our cases against sexual assault, only people who want to create a safe space for women and people alike.
The best way to create change is to be vocal, keep speaking out, spark outrage and hold men accountable. It’s a scary world for women at the minute but that doesn’t mean we have to live in fear anymore. the more we discuss issues as outrageous as this the more we stop the normalisation of this ingrained fear we've allowed for so long. Women have been oppressed for too long and although changes are happening, they need to happen a lot faster. Women deserve to feel safe walking home.