Until our institutions stop failing women it is for men to make a safer society - Alexander Brown
Earlier on in my career, I was a court reporter, filing stories on crimes from London’s top courts.
Every day from 9-5 I would write about the very worst of humanity, often hearing how women were raped, assaulted or murdered.
It was dark, but it was my job, and I could filter it out.
Things were not so easy for my then girlfriend. I vividly remember coming home and being asked what I’d written about, only to be cut off because she just could not handle hearing it.
And this is the problem. I have written, read, or heard numerous stories about attacks on women, been upset about them, then switched off.
And that is in part what has made Sarah Everard’s story so horrifying. For men it’s a story, for women it is the constant reminder of their own experience, the risk they run every time they go out, let alone after dark.
It is a feature of women’s experience that Westminster hears the Labour MP Jess Phillips reading out the names of the women killed by men each year.
This is just not Sarah. We know women walk home with keys in their hands, have to cross the street to avoid people and are killed in their hundreds every year, but it’s treated like an accepted norm, not a horrific blight on our society to be stamped out.
Our institutions are failing women. Since the sentencing, the Met Police have advised women to ‘shout or wave a bus down’ if they don’t trust a male officer.
They have had six months to come up with something, and all they have is advising the public how to protect themselves from the police.
Some he worked with had jokingly nicknamed him "The Rapist" as he made women feel uncomfortable. Other police officers were reported to have given supportive testimony.
After her offices forced women’s faces into the dirt at a vigil, Met Commissioner Cressida labelled those calling for change “armchair” critics.
The police are not going to fix this, so naturally the UK Government has backed her to stay until 2024.
This all comes in a patriarchy where sexual harassment is commonplace, rape allegations rarely lead to prosecution, and the justice system is so underfunded cases get dropped due to workload.
It is a failure from top to bottom, so the change must come from us.
Men discuss our attitudes towards women and cannot let female voices be the only ones demanding change.
I don’t know how to fix it, but there are small things we can do to at least make better men.
We must call out how our friends treat women, not just laughing off they’re “handsy” or “had a drink”.
Everyone knows people like this.
Being a bad ba****d should be enough to be ostracised. It’s not enough to let people find where the line is themselves.
Our governments and institutions have failed us. It’s long past time for men to take a look at themselves, and help women enact the change that will come too late for too many.
She was just walking home.
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