Trigger warning: this article contains discussion of issues surrounding women’s safety including sexual assault.
It would be an understatement to state that the week of 8th March 2021 was a significant moment for women. 8th March itself saw International Women’s Day, an event designed to celebrate women and draw attention to the issues they continue to face. However, the same week also saw the discovery of the murder of Sarah Everard, who had disappeared while walking home alone in South London. Her death sparked an intense wave of anger and frustration among women, as it highlighted the inherent dangers still present for women simply for going about their business. Social media platforms witnessed a repetition of the #MeToo movement of 2017, with women sharing stories of harassment, abuse and assault. Even outside of social media, despite the pandemic, women and allies took to the streets as part of vigils to pay tribute to Sarah and the women lost to male violence.
It is clear that more needs to be done to help women feel safer. Historically, the emphasis has been on women to take measures to protect themselves, such as carrying makeshift protective devices and walking in groups. However, a shift has occurred in the wake of Sarah’s death, in which there has been a greater recognition of men’s role in helping women feel safer. It has been pleasing to see some men reaching out on social media to ask what they can do to put women at ease, and we’ve put together some more things may can do to play their part:
- Calling out inappropriate behaviour by other men, to show it should not be tolerated
- Crossing the road to move away from women when it it’s dark
- Keeping hands and faces visible when walking at night around women
Admittedly it will take time for significant change to occur, and understandably women will continue to look for ways to keep themselves safe. In light of these, we would like to bring attention to some of the ways women can do this:
- Rape alarms from Swansea University Student Union
- Downloading a safety app, such as BSafe
- If using an Uber, sharing trip status in the app so they can track your journey
It is all our responsibility to keep this movement to promote women’s safety going. The tragic death of Sarah Everard has clearly been a watershed moment for women, and it is not right that an issue which affects so many continues to be accepted as part of everyday life. The time for change is now.