That’s the number of names read out on International Women’s Day. The number of women killed last year and the reality of women’s safety and gender based violence in the UK.
There are many things that made Sarah Everard’s case above so many of those named stand out. Her race? Her class? Her education? Most likely an amalgamation of all these factors but for now I want to address that number.
Why? Because the cases of people like Sarah Everard, of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry are outliers. They were killed by strangers. Though like many women I have been harassed on the streets and believe women’s safety in public spaces is a genuine concern, that isn’t where the biggest danger lies.
In response to Sarah’s death the government announced 25 million for better lighting, CCTV & putting plain-clothes officers in pubs and clubs. That’s a great start.
But this also feels like a knee jerk reaction. A plaster on an already infected wound. It’s not treating the root of the problem. Reading that list, the causes of death were chilling, a reminder that the majority of women’s murders are at the hands of those they know.
Before Sarah Covid 19 should have already been a rude awakening about women’s safety. During Covid 19 there has been another ‘shadow pandemic’ according to the UN . Domestic abuse has been rising around the globe. All the lighting in the world won’t stop that growing shadow.
Sarah was caught on CCTV, and when it comes to gender based violence, the real danger isn’t so much in the bar but after you leave, when you get home. How will a plain clothes officer in a club stop that? I question whether this will bring any real lasting change. Especially, in light of the fact that at the same time the government is pushing the The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. A bill claiming to be about women’s safety but that would make protests and movements that have fought for awareness and civil rights, including gender inequality, face an uncertain future.
I worry this push for women’s safety will be short lived, that the government is using this as a chance to limit our human right to protest. I worry that the names of the 118 women and the reality of their deaths at the hands of people they know will fade away after a flurry of social media posts.
So, take a minute, read their names, remember them and let’s drag gender based violence out of the shadows…
|Daneilla Espirito Santo|
|Emma Jane McParland|
|Yvonne ‘Vonnie’ Lawson McCann|
|Saman Mir Sacharvi|
|Poorna Kaameshwari Sivaraj (and three-year-old son)|
|Lauren Mae Bloomer|
|Andreia Patricia Rodriguez Guilherme|
|Rose Marie Tinton|
|Bennylyn Burke and her two-year-old daughter|
|Shadika Mohsin Patel|
|Kelly Fitzgibbons + two daughters|