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A year after Sarah Everard’s murder, are women any safer? | UKNews

It is a year today since Sarah Everard, a 33-year old marketing executive, was kidnapped, raped and murdered in South London.

Her killer was a serving Metropolitan Police Officer, Wayne Couzenswho is now serving a whole-life jail term.

Many saw the tragedy as a watershed moment for recognizing the extent of gender-based violence and public sexual harassment faced by women, from men.

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Women have said they still walk with keys between their fingers in case they get attacked

It is estimated 97% of women aged 18-24 in the UK have been sexually harassed, with the vast majority never reporting it.

12 months on from Sarah Everard’s death, are women any safer?

Anna Birley, organizer, Reclaim Our Streets

“Short answer, no. I think what’s really disappointing is how politicians, decision-makers, senior police officers all said that last March was this watershed moment for women’s safety and not only has it happened again, there was the tragic case of Sabina Nessafor example, but very little has happened as a result of their words.

“Every woman I know, myself included, still checks their behavior – not walking down certain roads, especially at night, getting a taxi if it’s not more than a short distance away.

Campaigner Anna Birley said she does not think women are any safer
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Campaigner Anna Birley said she does not think women are any safer

“I don’t know a woman who hasn’t at some point put their keys between their fingers.

“If the answer was street lights and more CCTV cameras there wouldn’t be an issue of women’s safety.

“It’s not an easy fix. We’re not being attacked by a lack of street lights, we’re being attacked by men feeling empowered and emboldened to behave that way towards women.

“And that stems from a culture that allows misogyny to go unchecked.”

Salwa lives in Brixton, near where Sarah Everard went missing

“I don’t feel like there have been any formalities or any policies that I’ve been in direct contact with that make me feel safer over the past year.

“As a woman, there is always that element of fear that surrounds how you act and how you can be. And I’ll do things myself to keep myself safe.

“I don’t ever think that feeling of fear will ever go, that’s routed into something that’s a much larger conversation.”

Salwa said she does not think that feeling of fear will ever go
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Salwa said she does not think that feeling of fear will ever go

Martha Reilly, sexual assault survivor

“It’s a story that so many people recognize, that someone gets too close to you in a crowded space. It was my 18th birthday and I was at a gig. And [a man] sexually assaulted me in a way that I now know is legally classed as rape.

“I couldn’t lay down my body in front of the police, like people did at the Clapham Common vigils, but I have so much respect for those that did.

Martha Reilly said she does not want plain-clothed police officers patrolling where she goes out
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Martha Reilly said she does not want plain-clothed police officers patrolling where she goes out

“I don’t see the link in increasing police powers and enforcing suspicion-less stop and search. That doesn’t make anyone feel safer.

“When I’m going out to queer clubs, I don’t want police in plain clothes there, that’s not what anyone is asking for.

“Give us our safe spaces, give us our communities.”

Nathan lives in Brixton, near where Sarah Everard went missing

“I think what happened to Sarah Everard made everyone a lot more conscious. I think before that you wouldn’t really, as a guy, really think twice about what I was doing and how that might impact others.

“But I’m definitely more aware if there is a girl walking by herself to not get too close, to not do anything that could be perceived as dangerous.

“Personally, I feel the same amount of safety, but I know now that women might not. So I’m definitely trying to be more considerate about it.”

Nathan said Ms Everard's death has made him a lot more conscious
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Nathan said Ms Everard’s death has made him a lot more conscious

Ella Morrison, Year 13 pupil, Alleyn’s School, South London

“It was so scary the fact that Sarah Everard was walking down a road that many of us walk down as well.

“She did everything that we are told that you are supposed to do – walk along a main road, not listening to music.

Pupil Ella Morrison's said the conversations at school after Ms Everard's death have been helpful
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Pupil Ella Morrison’s said the conversations at school after Ms Everard’s death have been helpful

“But the conversation that we have had at school now as a result, I think the pupils have really benefited from that, in just opening up the conversation and having it not as stigmatized as it was before.

“The sad truth is a lot of Year 7 and Year 8 pupils will experience cat-calling or gender-based violence and it’s better to educate them before that happens, rather than just be left in the dark about it, and allow it to be normalized.”

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