Will women ever be safe in the UK? – Rosy F

In the news lately, there has been many issues surrounding the safety of women, specifically the UK. I wanted to write this article to remind people that in certain aspects, women are at a severe disadvantage to men, one of which is simply walking alone at night. I think it is very important to not only highlight the issues that women are facing at the moment, but also provide sensible solutions to the problems. 

Just a few days ago Wayne Couzens received his life sentence for kidnapping, raping, and killing Sarah Everard in March 2021. He was a policeman who unjustly approached Everard on the evening of March 3rd, saying she had breached COVID rules by simply walking home. This obviously sparked a lot of outrage, leading to a very large vigil in her memory, because the police are there to prevent attacks like these and it showed that we cannot even trust those employed to protect us. Knowing that Sarah’s death could have been prevented if the accusation of sexual harassment that Couzens had faced just a few weeks before the incident was taken seriously, is very shocking. 

This case led to a criticism of the role of the police, not only in upsetting Sarah’s peaceful vigil but not interfering with mass crowds of football supporters, but also in their culture. Many officers were also investigated because of sexist behaviour but no systematic change came about. More recently at the sentencing of Couzens, the Met was critiqued again for suggesting that if a woman (or man) felt unsafe when an officer approaches them, they should ‘shout at passers-by, run into house or wave down a bus’. Not only would this do nothing to prevent these attacks, but people could also be arrested for resisting arrest. The police have also come up with more schemes, like spending £25 million on CCTV cameras to uncover the role of police officers and using undercover officers to tackle immediate sexual offences. 

A very similar case to Sarah’s happened again on 17th September. Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher, was attacked and violently killed when she was walking through Cater Park in South London. This attack was ruled a random ‘predatory’ attack by a stranger, named as 36-year-old Koci Selamaj. While the case is still open as Selamaj demanded a plea hearing for December, it again shows that women in the UK are not safe. 

The police, and society, keeps dodging the real issue; there are men who still believe that they are entitled to do whatever they want with women. Over the past year, it has been revealed that 97% of women have been sexually assaulted or harassed, which shows that it is not an individual problem, but a societal one. If we want equality for women in this country, men need to be a part of the solution, they need to be involved in the conversation and make a conscious decision to change their attitudes towards women. We can no longer live in a world where we do nothing but wait for another woman to be rape or murdered. Change needs to happen now and one of the most important ways that this can happen is by education.

Instead of changing the rules on what women should wear, how long they should stay out or how they should act around men, more focus needs to be on men. If men are educated on the problems that women face and how they can support them, we should see more change. By having both boys and girls learn in schools about both male and female problems, people should stop enforcing the gender divide. This may enable men to call out other men on sexist behaviour, further preventing little sexist acts being catalysed into serious criminal offences. 

Therefore, I hope this article has reminded you that we live in a world where woman and men are still not equal, and women cannot even feel safe in public or their homes. I want everyone to remember that nothing will change unless we bring men into the conversations of sexism. Everyone should be educated on the problems that women face so that, hopefully, in the future, women will be able to walk home or approach police officers without thinking they might be killed. 

May Sarah and Sabina rest in peace, I hope that we can use these women as examples of how if we leave this problem, the safety of women will never change.

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