OPINION: Street lighting would empower women and help us feel much safer

Young adult alone woman in white jacket standing on road under lamp light in autumn night. Back view

Darker streets limits the lives of women at night, says Rachel Moore - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

So, we’re being kept in the dark, literally, and 27,000 streetlights in Norfolk will remain switched off to save money.

To live with this news, county councillor Greg Peck mansplained that people needed to be educated not to be scared of the dark. That’s alright then.

Tell yourself not to be such a silly girl and get on with it.

It’s not the dark that grown-ups going about their business are scared of, Mr Peck, it’s the bad things that happen under the cover of darkness.

Children can be reassured not to be scared of switching their bedroom light off at night because they are snug and safe within their home. The dark presents no danger to them. It is an illogical fear.

You can’t tell women to learn not to scared to walk about alone in the dark because their fear is logical and based on fact, and in far too many cases, experience. Horrible experience of being grabbed, intimidated, assaulted or confronted by a man exposing themselves.

Greg Peck, Conservative candidate for Reepham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council member for asset management - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Dangers in the dark are real and ongoing.

Would he tell his daughter who had to leave the house by foot for an early shift to educate herself not to be afraid, or would he make sure she got to work safely? Not all women have the luxury of a car. Cycling in pitch black streets is terrifying. No women should be terrified going to and from work.

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Read the room, sir.

Listen to accounts of what women say, how they have to live different lives to men condensing their lives into daylight hours or plan well ahead, factoring in, how they get to the safety of inside their front door from work, a friend’s house, a night out or the gym.

Sarah Everard’s murder in London released an ongoing avalanche of accounts of women about what they have encountered on dark streets and how they don’t feel safe at night.

We live in a 24-hour economy – even gyms are open 24-hours – with shifts in hospitality, logistics and warehouses, health, transport, engineering, energy… the list goes on…operating around the clock.

Fear is precluding so many women from working in anti-social hours industries because of their concern about how to get there and back.

If being alone on the dark can be conquered by education not to be scared, why do companies have lone working policies so no one is exposed to danger?

Yet Mr Peck is telling women to get educated to have no fear

Women’s lives are being limited by fear of what might happen if they venture out for a run in the dark, walk home from a night with friends or just to walk the dog – all things men do without a thought.

Sarah Everard, 33, whose body was found in Kent Woodland on March 10.

Sarah Everard, 33, whose body was found in Kent Woodland on March 10. - Credit: PA

Norfolk County Council’s Labour group called for council leader Andrew Proctor to be able to use delegated powers to restore full night lighting in areas where it had been restricted 11 years ago.

Labour leader Steve Morphew, who proposed the motion, said: "What has become most apparent in recent weeks is how so many of us men have failed to appreciate and recognise the fear experienced by women of violence from men.

"Like many men, I was both shocked by the sheer number of reports and shocked by the fact that I hadn’t realised before."

This discussion is long overdue. Why should women have to restrict their lives and make different decisions about how they live and move around outside to men?

A YouGov survey in 2019 found that almost half of women said they ‘always or often felt unsafe’ when walking down an alleyway by themselves (49 per cent) or when walking alone at night (46 per cent). By contrast, only between 11 per cent and 13 per cent of men felt the same.

The decision by the county council flies in the face of the government doubling its Safer Streets funding to £45 million in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder to provide the likes of better lighting and CCTV

However, Mr Peck said lighting attracts crime, because the attacker can see their victim.

"If the lights are off, they can't, so they're not quite sure whether they are approaching a young lady or a 6ft 6in rugby player.

"I think, maybe, there needs to be more education to people not to fear the dark, as it is not an unsafe place."

Staggering.

Another money cut that disproportionately affects women. Why wouldn’t a council want to do everything it could to empower its females to feel safe on its streets?

Football victory: Another magnificent victory for people power this week effecting the speedy volte face of the Greedy Six.

Like dominos falling, the English clubs dropped out of the European Super League as soon as they faced the fans’ ferocity.

The biggest own goal in the European Super League fiasco is how far removed from reality and the fan base these clubs have become, showing their own true colours – the colours of money not the shirts.

The reality of players being denied work visas and the withdrawal of police funding for match days are under consideration.

Fans have the real power, seized it and won. Now they need to mete out their own punishment on the clubs they pay handsomely to ‘support.’

The ESL is over but the wounds of 24 hours will take long to heal