Sarah Everard, 33, was last seen a week ago in Clapham. Now, a serving Met police officer in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The man is an officer with the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
Sarah’s case has shaken women everywhere. It’s left us afraid, bereft and overwhelmed. Why? Because it represents everything we’ve been told to fear since we were children. And it proves that our fear is valid and necessary.
In 2021, a woman still cannot walk home alone and feel safe doing so.
While social media is erupting with victim-blaming posts (yes, almost exclusively from men), one positive post is gaining traction, asking what men can do to help us feel safer – and the responses and advice from women have come flooding in.
Stuart Edwards shared: “I live less than five minutes from where Sarah Everard went missing. Everyone is on high alert. Aside from giving as much space as possible on quieter streets and keeping face visible, is there anything else men can reasonably do to reduce the anxiety/spook factor?”
“This is an excellent question and I wish more men would ask it,” replied Fiona Sturges. “Cross the street to avoid walking behind a woman. Give all women space. Never run close to them when jogging, esp in the dark – I’m endlessly astonished at how many men do this. Offer to walk female friends home.”
This was echoed by Laura Marcus: “Basically never ever walk closely behind a woman,” she shared. “Cross the street to avoid this if necessary. I was attacked from behind once and even tho it was decades ago I still get freaked out if anyone walks too closely behind me”.
Julie Cohen explained how important it is to let a woman stay on the path she’s on, as we often choose the part with the most light and exit options.
“If a woman is walking towards you, let her stay in her path and get out of her way rather than making her move. I consciously walk in the safest part of the path with access to light/exits and so many times a man has forced me to walk between him and a wall.”
Jill Foster pointed out how intimidating it can be when strange men try to talk to us on public transport, particularly if it’s quiet and we’re alone.
“Don’t strike up random conversation with a woman on an empty train carriage,” Jill said. “If we ignore you, we worry that you’ll get aggressive. If we engage, we worry that you will think ‘you’re in’. If SHE strikes up conversation, fine…otherwise leave her alone.”
Rebecca Vincent shared: “The fact that you’re aware & asking this is fantastic. Talk to other men about it, as many are oblivious. If you witness even low-key harassment, call it out. Everyone pretends not to notice the creeps making women uncomfortable. It only emboldens them & normalises the behaviour.”
This advice should be read by men everywhere. Men: share it, talk about it, act on it. Do your part to help women feel even a tinier bit safer in a world in which we aren’t.