Sarah was walking home when she was taken. Taken and never seen alive again, only her ‘remains’ were found. I don’t even know if I can imagine the terror and other feelings which Sarah must have experienced from the moment of being taken till she was murdered. Unfortunately harassment of women is all too common as the countless stories being shared tell us like Marina shares. According to a recent survey, 97% of all women aged 18-24 in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment. And while Sarah lived in London in the UK, it is not limited to the UK or London. We also know that in the digital world, harassment towards women and girls exponentially grows.
Just like I struggle to imagine what Sarah went through before being murdered, I don’t understand the man who did this. What possesses you take someone off the streets and murder them? Why do you destroy their family and friends at the same time? Of course it is not all men who do this (thankfully). However, as my friend Ceri points out, women don’t know which group I fall into when I’m walking down the street behind or beside them.
But still I’m stunned by the 97%. Just think for a moment if 97% of household had their TV/web sports coverage shut down for a week or even a day. Think about the outrage which would occur. And yet, when 97% of our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces and friends are sexually harassment little is done. We don’t call it out. We don’t tell our brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, nephews and friends that the behaviour is not ok. That ‘it’s just a joke’ is not ok. And no, she doesn’t ‘like it’ or ‘want it’.
It’s wrong, flat out wrong that women don’t feel safe walking home alone – at night or daytime. It’s wrong that as societies we’ve come to accept this as ‘just the way it is.’ It’s time for a change.
And maybe it’s time for men to have a curfew till we as a group learn to behave – ourselves, and to hold our peers accountable too. And please, whatever you do, don’t try to put any of the blame on women. It’s demeaning to them and to you.