I HAD been following the case of a missing young woman in London from about March 5.
Sarah Everard had been walking home from her friend’s house in London on an early March night at about 9.30pm when she disappeared. The police raised the alarm and launched a missing persons investigation, stating it was completely out of character for the young woman not to be in contact with friends and family.
In the ensuing days a serving metropolitan police officer was arrested in connection with Sarah’s disappearance. Police then announced that human remains had been found in Kent, and subsequently the remains were identified as being those of Sarah Everard.
Sarah was only walking home from her friend’s house when her life was cut short.
I spoke with my wife about the case and she told me how only that very morning while out for a walk she passed a male with a rucksack and a hammer which automatically made her go from a leisurely local walk to a place of fear and unease.
As we continued to talk, it made her realise a life-long conditioning as a female to always be on high alert, to never take the shortcuts and other similar lessons that are ingrained in her since childhood as a female where she always felt the responsibility of her safety lay on her shoulders rather than on the conscious of male society.
I often go for a run on this very same path and it made me think when I have run by a woman who is out walking on her own, has she had that same feeling my wife had?
When I go for a run, whether it’s at night time, or in the woods, or the path by the water I don’t feel afraid that anyone is going to attack me. Lots of women feel unsafe every time they go out and find themselves alone.
Why? Why do women feel like this? Why should women have to feel this way and think this way?
The simple fact is that women are not attacked, abused, harassed or killed because of where they go, how they dress or how they look. These actions happen because men choose to do it.
Male violence against a woman is not a woman’s fault. It is the decision and action of a man.
Women should be allowed to go where they want, when they want, dress how they want and be free of fear when they venture out into the world. Women should feel safe outside and inside their own homes.
Men need to ask themselves some questions and we could all start with the question, how would I feel if it was my partner, wife, sister or daughter who was the one on the receiving end of some harassment or violence by men?
Maybe men should think about how they view women, how they treat women and how they talk about women and again ask themselves again, would I be ok if the females I love were treated the way I treat women?
What can men do to address this situation, this fear among women that makes them feel unsafe?
You can think about how you are yourself in your personal relationships with the women in your life.
Maybe you should think do you act differently when you are with your female loved ones compared to when perhaps you are with your male friends or colleagues?
If a man is in a private chat group with friends, then perhaps consider how women are talked about? Maybe it’s time to take a break from that group, or better still, if you see something being said that is not OK, then say it’s not OK.
It’s hard to stand up to your enemies but it’s even harder to stand up to your friends, but if you have values and if you have a voice then stand up, because you are not only standing up for yourself, you are standing up for women when you call out inappropriate talk or behaviour.
Our young men need to know that it is not ok to harass or attack women.
This education can start in many places, at home, in school, in the sports locker rooms, in the circle of friends but I believe that other men have to be the example that we want our young men to grow up by.
We should all want to change the under-lying culture of misogyny and toxic behaviour toward women in society across the world today, so if you are a man, think about the behaviour of yourself and other men toward women in your daily life. Does it feel right?
Sarah Everard deserved better. Sarah deserved to live her life. Sarah was only walking home.