Olivia Devereux-Evans on how the Sarah Everard case has reminded women of their vulnerability on the streets
The tragic disappearance and suspected murder of Sarah Everard last week made me sad.
Sarah did what women are told to do; she wore bright clothes, called her boyfriend, wore flat shoes and was on a well-lit path. Yet she still was not safe. It has left many of us, me included, on edge and scared.
It is because we know it could still happen to any one of us. It is because 97% of women aged 18-24 in the UK have been harassed. It is tiring and we are angry.
There are a plethora of things we do on a daily basis without even thinking about it to supposedly keep ourselves safe. Yet this awful event reminded me again.
When I was younger I would take the bus home from secondary school and walk back from the bus stop as it got dark in the winter. Looking back, I always quickened my pace without even realising I was doing so, looking over my shoulder. Even now, when I am walking a short distance down my
road in the dark or leaving an Uber and opening my front door, I quicken my pace.
When I was 15. I was on the tube alone for the first time, in a packed carriage at Southgate Station. The carriage was silent as usual, with everyone sat trying not to make eye contact.
But then a man I had never met looked at me directly for a few minutes. He broke the silence by telling me I was wearing a nice blouse. It was a completely unsolicited comment, which put me on edge and led me to move carriages. This is the reality many of us face, being stared at by strange men and being given unsolicited – and unwelcome – comments.
I am lucky to have some amazing male friends who live locally. When we are together they will step in and make sure me, and my female friends are okay if we are being harassed by other men.
I also have an unspoken agreement with them to have them walk me home when we meet at each other’s houses in normal times. It is kind of them, but it infuriates me to have to rely on them so often. I want to live in a world where I do not need to rely on them to walk me home when I cannot get an Uber.
It is good that there are solutions and things men can do to help us if we are being made to feel uncomfortable. When men cross the road when we approach them at night or in the day, try to step in if we look visibly uncomfortable and try to understand the scale of the problem; it reassures us.
The issue is very widespread and while I can feel relatively safe living where I live, I wish I could feel safe out at night alone. For years, I have wondered what it would be like to go on a leisurely walk at night by myself.
I want to just be able to walk for recreation and without having to rush at night. What happened to Sarah Everard should not keep happening. We should feel safe alone at night.