Since the beginning of last month, every conversation has touched on the topic of women’s rights. From the controversy surrounding the fact the vigil was held in the pandemic to the way even those thought to protect may be seen differently, everyone was talking about it.
On the 3rd of March of this year, we woke up to the saddening news that a young woman called Sarah Everard was deemed missing around Clapham in London. Six days later, the Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murder. The murder sparked a wave of conversations, not only because the arrested was a police officer but also because the majority of us women found ourselves relating.
On the same week as the arrest, the 13th of March, a vigil was held for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common. In the morning, many paid their respects with even the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine. During the evening, there was an influx of attendees at the vigil before four people were arrested for breaching COVID-19 regulations. However, there was controversy surrounding how the Metropolitan Police handled the women attending and the situation after one of their own police officers was arrested under suspicion. This was highlighted by the way the police walked over flowers and used force. The day after, 1,000 women marched from New Scotland Yard, the base of the Metropolitan Police to Parliament Square in the central part of Westminster.
The vigil sparked an online flurry – women who began to speak and unite against male violence they have been subjected to. It’s important to note that talking about this is not an attack on men, nor is it all men who subject women to violence or are violent at all but this conversation stemmed from a crime against a woman by a male.
It’s ridiculous to me that women still have to protest and march for equal rights but when you look at past events, it hasn’t evolved much. After Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse convictions, Twitter saw the social media of #MeToo movement where women spoke out about their own heart-breaking experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault, started by Tarana Burke. It was as if it had become normalised which is most frightening.
It’s important to know that violence and harassment can happen in any form – physical, mental and sexual, and possibly casual. According to Amnesty International, 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by their partners and UN Women also reported that 6% of women report being subjected to sexual violence from someone who isn’t their partner or husband. These statistics provide a clear basis for the significance of women’s rights as these may have increased due to COVID and how many women are coming forward to break their silence.
We also know that sexual abuse is often perpetrated by those in inner circles – families or trustees. This was most prominent in the most recent allegations from anonymous students who attend private schools, with even those young as 9 and 10 posting their experiences. This led to a public inquiry into the running of these private education establishments where almost all of us were taken aback and deeply shocked by what had happened.
A solution? Well, there’s the possibility of a couple. Better education and widening of citizenship lessons in the national curriculum may help – teaching pupils of any gender and sexual orientation helps them identify red flags within relationships. Indirect socialisation within families provides aid and helps those who are frightened to come forward, as it’s known that from a young age girls are socialised into wearing covering clothes, not going out at night, and holding keys. There are so many different tactics and the fact girls are taught these when their often not even adults is shocking. There’s also the fact of DBS checks and how these should be deeper and renewed more often. Everybody should feel and be safe walking the streets, as well as in their own homes, and out in public. To limit the chance of violence, education leads to prevention.
Article by a Young Reporter
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 26th April 2021