A lot of promises were made after Sarah Everard’s death, but what has actually changed?
Despite pledges to keep us safe, another woman has just been murdered walking on her own
In the immediate days after Sarah Everard’s murder, people gathered in their thousands to mourn her death and protest for real change. A sense of desperation and anger hung in the air above Clapham Common, the site of Sarah’s murder and vigil, as women demanded and prayed for a long awaited change. One vigil attendee said: “I wanted to come down to pay my respects, but also make sure something is done. Enough is enough.”
And now six months on another young woman, Sabina Nessa, has been murdered on a walk to the pub to see her friends just five minutes from home.
In between these two high profile cases, 77 other women have been killed by men. 77 women.
In the aftermath of Sarah’s death there were hashtags and graphics shared on social media highlighting the reality of women’s lives and our constant fear. There were interviews, organisations set up, and petitions started in order to create awareness. More street lamps and plain clothes officers were seen as the solution to a centuries old problem. Men promised to be better, the government promised us we’d be safe and yet 77 women have been killed. It is not good enough.
Changes to the domestic abuse bill have gone through, the government launched its “once in a generation” plan to tackle violence and a new site has been launched to log unsafe spaces. But in reality have they worked? And do women feel any safer?
This is everything that’s happened since the murder of Sarah Everard:
The government released its Tackling Violence Against Women Strategy
Following Sarah’s death the Home Office released a Tackling Violence Against Women Strategy which they hailed as a “once in a generation” opportunity to reduce violence against women and girls.
As part of the strategy they promised to introduce a 24 hour rape and sexual assault helpline, criminalisation of “virginity testing”, putting £5million funding towards tackling violence in public areas at night and create a site for women to log places they feel unsafe.
So far the Street Safe site has been put into action. The site allows users to log places they have felt unsafe for any number of reasons including poor street lighting or being verbally abused for example. The site is not for reporting crimes.
The Domestic Abuse Bill was updated to include revenge porn and non-fatal strangulation
Amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill became law in late April this year.
The changes involved the criminalisation of the threat to share intimate images and videos, making non-fatal strangulation illegal and banning perpetrators from cross examining their victims in person.
The Department For Transport created a survey to learn how they could create safer streets
Earlier in September the Department For Transport created a survey allowing people to share their experience of harassment on the streets.
The survey has now closed and the results from it will be used to plan how to design the UK streets in order to make them safe for users.
The under secretary of state for transport, Rachel Maclean MP, said whilst she knows these problems cannot be solved by design alone she is hoping: “To find out how the design, maintenance and operation of streets can be improved to make sure everyone feels safe and confident using them in their daily lives.
“This is about perception, as much as reality – a street may not be dangerous according to the data and yet people will avoid using it, perhaps at certain times of day or night, because it does not feel safe.”
The National Police Lead For Violence Against Women and Girls was appointed
As part of the Home Office’s strategy Priti Patel announced there would be a dedicated police officer put in charge for tackling violence against women and girls.
Deputy chief constable Maggie Blyth was appointed to the role of National Police Lead for Violence Against Women and Girls in early September and will begin the job on 11th October.
Sadiq Khan has been calling for misogyny to be made a hate crime
Following the murder of Sabina Nessa, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has called for misogyny to be made a hate crime.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Sadiq described the violence against women and girls as an “epidemic” and wants men to be allies.
As well as making misogyny a hate crime Sadiq argued harassment against women in a public space should be made a criminal offence.
An installation dedicated to women’s safety was destroyed
In late July the student organisation Our Bodies Our Streets created an installation in Ponderosa Park in Sheffield. The installation included verses written by the group members to call attention to catcalling and street harassment.
A month later on 31st August it was set on fire. The organisation said it was “deeply disappointed and disturbed”.
They said: “As a team, we are deeply disappointed given the hours of work and effort put into this piece of work, but also all those whose words and experiences were displayed on the sculpture.
“It was a passion project and to have our work taken from us is hurtful. We are taking this attack on our work as a prompt to fight back and not be silenced.”
The police have launched an appeal for information to find out who is responsible for the arson.
An incel mass shooter killed five people
On 12th August earlier this year 22-year-old Jake Davidson killed five people including his mother. During his killing spree he killed three women, one child and a man before turning the gun on himself.
Davidson was part of an online incel community, a group of people who are involuntarily celibate and are usually men who are extremely misogynistic and sexist.
An account belonging to Davidson was taken down on Reddit the day before he committed his killing spree after he was accused of making inappropriate comments to a teenage girl.
Despite all the government pledges, half of women feel less safe according to new research
To mark the six month anniversary of Sarah’s death, Grazia conducted a survey in collaboration with GoFundMe which found 48 per cent of women feel less safe when out alone now.
As part of they survey they found 48 per cent of women worried about someone following them, 34 per cent always walk home with a friend and 15 per cent have now learnt self defence.
77 women have been killed by men since Sarah Everard’s death
Since the murder of Sarah Everard, 77 more women have been killed by men in the UK, meaning over 100 women have been killed by men in the UK in the last year alone.
The most recent woman to have been murdered is Sabina Nessa. Sabina was a 28-year-old teacher from Greenwich. She loved cats and was a sociology graduate of the University of Greenwich.
Sabina was reported missing last Friday evening and her body was discovered in Cator Park in Greenwich 24 hours later. Sabina was five minutes away from her home when she was believed to have been murdered. The Metropolitan Police has launched a murder investigation.
An Instagram account called Cute Cat Calls has released a graphic naming every single woman who has been murdered this year.
View this post on Instagram
Though there have been a number of attempts to change legislation and introduce safety measures, at the end of the day it is not enough. Women are still being killed.
Extra street lamps and increased patrols will not make us feel safer or stop a large proportion of men from hating us so much they want us dead.
Handing out rape alarms and creating a new police role will do nothing to keep us safe because we were never the problem to begin with.