The reality of being a woman in today’s society

Amaya Rothrock, Editor in Chief

On March 3, 33 year-old Sarah Everard was walking to her home from a friend’s house in London, UK. She was sure to wear bright colors, walked in a well-lit area, and called her boyfriend to let him know she was on her way home. However, that was not enough to keep her safe. She was abducted and murdered that evening by 48 year-old Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, who has since been charged for her kidnapping and murder. 

The tragedy caused an uproar from women across the city as they demanded protection from male violence. Female protesters planned to hold a vigil called “Reclaim These Streets” to raise awareness of protecting women from harassment and violence in response to the tragedy. But the organizers were refused a permit by the Metropolitan police to hold the vigil, and it was dismissed due to COVID-19 virus restrictions. 

According to NPR, police asked organizers of the event to stay at home or find a different way to express their opinions that would follow the COVID-19 virus guidelines, but organizers felt as though they were not being heard, and instead felt the issue was being minimized. Organizers alternatively asked that participants shine lights from their homes for what was called a “doorstep vigil.” 

On March 13, citizens walked through Clapham Common Park, the last place Everard was seen before her disappearance, and many attendees were seen masked to follow the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines. They walked to place flowers in her memory, and the crowd only grew throughout the day. At the start of the rally at 6 p.m., women began to give powerful speeches, drawing in more of a crowd. 

“We have come here today, because after Sarah’s disappearance the police told women that they should stay at home to avoid being attacked … women say no,” an unnamed woman said while beginning her speech according to The Guardian

At this time, police began pushing the crowd back and moving speakers aside, trampling flowers and candles in their path. The chant “keep your hands off my sister” arose, and a wave of fury moved across the crowd. 

Police ordered the crowd to disperse and threatened to detain those who stayed. However, women began to chant “shame on you” and “arrest your own” in response to the police force. Many felt the push for them to disperse was unnecessary as the majority of attendees were masked.

In response to the police force, on March 14, protesters gathered outside of the Metropolitan Police Headquarters to protest the handling of the situation the previous day. Women were seen holding signs and chanting outside of the headquarters, demanding change. 

Afterward, “Regain These Streets” became a movement and took to social media. Young girls and women across the world have shared Sarah’s story in recent weeks with the hopes of raising awareness of violence against women. The kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard have left many women in shock as they realize “that could have been me.”

The sad reality is women today have to be aware of their surroundings at all times. They can follow all of the precautions they are taught to prevent violence against them, but tragedies such as what happened to Sarah Everard still happen. Tragedies like Sarah’s will continue to happen until people become educated on the subject.

Violence against women is often dismissed, or women are told to take more safety precautions- but that should not be the case. Rather than force women to accept violence, people need to be educated about why this happens and how it can be prevented. Men need to stand up for women when they hear derogatory statements being made. They can not get defensive of themselves when they hear of male violence against women, but instead show support and understanding. Women need to be supported, and their stories need to be heard. 

Although it is not all men who perform acts of violence against women, the majority of women have a story where they have dealt with violence, and that is not okay.  It is time women are heard, and changes can be made soon, so women can finally walk home safely.