We asked protestors why they are marching right now and the responses are harrowing
‘We’re here in solidarity – for her and for all the women, all the trans women, all the non-binary people, all the gender non-conforming people’
Following the murder of Sarah Everard, people have taken to the streets to mourn the loss of another innocent woman to femicide and to protest the injustice we currently face within society.
We spoke to attendees of some of the protests that were taking place across the weekend, from the Reclaim These Streets vigils, Sisters Uncut protest and Reclaim the Fight group.
We asked why protesters were inspired to come out and stand in solidarity with the cause. From unjust notions of gender that are simply taken for granted in society, to wanting to protest the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, they were all united by their desire to protest the current state of injustice within society.
Alice, an NHS worker
Voiced her fear and frustration that led her to protest on Sunday:
“Um, why I came down here today? Because I’ve been heartbroken all week; because it’s been a triggering week; because we’re not safe; because I have to yet again ask to not be raped, murdered, kidnapped, harassed on the street; because of all the times that I have been sexually assaulted, harassed and attacked on the street by men.
“I’m here to pay my respects to Sarah, her family, her boyfriend, her friends. She should have been alive. She should have been, you know, going on with her business, and just enjoying her existence, and she’s not. So we’re here in solidarity – for her and for all the women, all the trans women, all the non-binary people, all the gender non-conforming people, they are at risk of being sexually assaulted and murdered and beaten by men every single day.
“And I’m here, I work in the NHS, and all my patients, a lot of my patients actually, but all my women patients have been very much affected by this week it’s been a really heavy week for them, as well as for my colleagues at work as well. So I had to come, I had to turn up.”
Reanne, speaker at the protest
She had to come to fight for justice given the levels of unprosecuted gender violence that continue to permeate society:
“Women have been protesting for their rights literally for centuries at this point. And in this modern-day and age when 97 per cent of women have been sexually harassed or assaulted, 99 per cent of the perpetrators are male, eight per cent are prosecuted and one per cent are ever charged, we really need to think about what exactly the police are doing.
“Who do the police really protect? If we need to come back again tomorrow – we will. If we need to come back again in 10 years – we will. If we need to come back in a hundred years – we will. We have been doing this and we will keep doing this. We will get justice.”
A pair of sixth-formers from South London
They had come to show support for all the victims of gender-based crimes that never make the headlines:
“We were at the vigil last night. We live in South West London, so we thought it was incredibly important for us to go. We definitely don’t think it’s over right now. It’s only just started, so to be here today, to stand for all the women on our backs – it’s incredibly important to us.”
Leo, a London University student
He had come to stand in solidarity with women against police brutality:
“I just think the most important thing is for men to come down to rallies like this to show support. I mean, it’s just completely like, we’ve spent the last year protesting against police brutality in various forms. The vigil that was held last night was broken up violently by the police. It’s a system that just doesn’t understand change. It’s an old system. It needs, it needs not just reform but it needs change, revolutionary change. And I think I came down here, you know, to show support for that.”
Frank, male protestor
Had come to protest police violence as well as the Bill which threatens UK citizen’s very right to protest at all:
“Reasons for turning up? One was obviously the events at Clapham Common yesterday. My intuition yesterday had been to go, and I didn’t and I felt this morning, I really should have been there. So I was determined to turn up to this. And, secondly, because of the potential loss of the right to protest. Partly because of Covid, and partly because that’s what affected the protests yesterday. And I felt it was important, it’s also important, as a male, to stand up for the safety of women on your streets.”
London University students
Came to protest the intensely ingrained notions of gender violence that girls are taught to internalise as children:
“It’s been going on for too long – we need to come together.”
“And it’s not just limited to physical acts of violence, but how the media portrays women and how it normalises these really disgusting things, and men own the fucking media. I just feel it’s important for everyone to realise that, like yeah, women are not free at all in our behaviours – like in our everyday behaviours. We’re not free just because we have to control everything we do and we say.”
“The fear is so ingrained.”
“It’s like thought prisons.”
“It’s like really hard to just live through for every woman, but also for men to realise it. Because they just don’t realise it.”
“You know things like panic alarms…it just shouldn’t have to feel like that. We shouldn’t be catcalled. From the age of nine, I was getting catcalled. It’s just so ingrained though.”
From these few testimonies alone a plethora of the issues at stake are unveiled. These discussions surrounding policing and gender-based violence today, are just a snapshot of a far bigger picture. Though none of this is a new subject, quite the opposite, women everywhere are exhausted of the inequality, and the atmosphere, in London at least, is not one of resignation, but determination. As has been said above, this is not the end, this is just the beginning.
For regular updates on the organisation of demonstrations follow @sistersuncut and @reclaimthefightldn on Instagram.