Sarah Everard's disappearance shows disrespect of women persists in 2021
- Credit: PA
I think by now most of the country is shocked by the news of Sarah Everard's disappearance.
She was walking home a couple of weeks ago when she disappeared.
She did everything right, her boyfriend knew exactly where she was, she was walking down a well-lit street and wearing bright clothes.
But it didn’t matter, she was still abducted in the middle of London.
This tragic incident has opened a conversation online, with thousands of women sharing their experiences but it has also shown that a lot of men don’t understand what is it to be a woman.
There are thousands of comments saying she shouldn’t have been walking home at night by herself.
Are these men implying women should be curfewed at sundown?
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I have a better proposal if that’s the case, lets curfew all men when it’s dark outside.
A recent UN Women UK poll shows that 97% of women aged between 18 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment and that 80% of women in the UK have experienced it in public places.
This poll shows it’s not a generational problem, it’s a human rights issue and it’s something men need to understand.
So, let’s break this down for any man out there that has any doubts about what’s going on here.
Let’s say you have five female friends, well that means that four of your friends have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Statistically speaking you know a man that has harassed a woman and it shouldn’t take that you are a father/husband/uncle/cousin for you to care or to be shocked by that.
As a woman, I know the feeling of walking home at night and not being sure that I will make it back, carrying my keys in one hand and my phone in the other, texting my friends or my parents or my partner that I’ve made it home safe, getting in the car and immediately locking the doors.
Talking to my friends about it, all of them do similar things to feel safer. I don’t have a single male friend or family member that does any of these things to feel safer.
When I was 16, my aunt, who is a doctor, told me that if I ever was in a situation I couldn’t escape from and I couldn’t run or fight anymore, I should be still, because if I survived the incident, the damage and the trauma would be easier to manage.
She never had to have this conversation with any of my male cousins.
I recently had a car accident and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, luckily the incident happened during the middle of the day.
It wasn’t a major accident but I had to wait for help. I was standing outside my car (as one should do after having an accident), my fluorescent vest on, hazard lights, the whole nine yards.
As I was waiting a van passed by once, he slowed down, looked at me and kept driving.
He proceeded to pass three more times in the span of 15 minutes.
The second time he drove by, a sense of dread filled my body.
I had just realised I was in the middle of nowhere, this person could pass by, grab and drag me into the van, and no one would ever see me again.
My next logical decision, was to write down his license plate, get in my car, lock it and wait for help to arrive.
These conversations are uncomfortable but they need to happen.
We need to stop with the victim blaming and we need to start on attacker blaming.
It doesn’t matter what we wear, where we were, the time, if we were alone or with someone.
We need to start teaching men that it's not OK to grab us, call us names, tell us to smile or that maybe we shouldn’t be wearing a skirt, dress or showing cleavage if we don’t want unwanted attention.
Women are not things for you to take when you fancy, we are all human, the same as you.
It’s 2021, it’s about time men start respecting us.
Victoria Pertusa is an Archant visual journalist