On March 3rd, 33 year-old Sarah Everard disappeared while walking home in the streets of London, only to be found dead one week later and over 50 miles from where she was last seen. She did everything right. She took the long way because it was more populated and better-lit. She wore shoes that she could run in and brightly colored clothing. She was leaving a friend's house and checked in with her boyfriend so that he would be expecting her. On what was supposed to be a quick, safe walk home, she was kidnapped and murdered by a police officer who then dumped her lifeless body like it was garbage in the woods, hoping her loved ones would never find her.
In the wake of Everard's death, Britain has vowed to increase funding for better street lighting and to move forward with a pilot program putting plain clothes officers in and around bars and night clubs. How quickly they forget it was a police officer who murdered her. Or how about the officer involved in the investigation who had to be removed from duty for sharing an "inappropriate graphic" regarding the case?
On Saturday the 13th, the women of London held a vigil for Everard. Both honoring her memory and to express their outrage at the events following her death.
The police told women in the neighborhood that Everard disappeared from to stay inside for their own safety. Why should women have to fear stepping foot outside their homes if police are doing their jobs? Truly doubling down on the lack of respect and care for women in the area, the police responded by trying to disperse the vigil. The department threatened hefty fines, despite the intentions of mask wearing and a peaceful demonstration, forcing the organizers to officially cancel the event. However, women showed up anyways. Knowing the risks, a large crowd gathered to honor Sarah and themselves. They spoke out against the police force and gathered in a show of strength, only for the police to trample the memorial and break up the vigil. As protests continued outside police headquarters on Monday, arrests were made citing a breach in lockdown orders and coronavirus rules.
The women of London are crying out for protection, security, and respect.
A woman was murdered despite doing everything in her power to stay safe, and it's sickening we have to justify the public outcry for her death. We have to make sure everyone knows she wasn't walking down a dark alley in heels carrying a dead cellphone, but would that make her death any less relevant?
So, if this information wasn't enough for you, why should you be outraged by the murder of Sarah Everard? It is not because she is someone's girlfriend or daughter or because it could have been your wife, sister, daughter, mother, any other female relative, or even you. It's because she is a human being and enough is enough. It is not enough to hand your daughters mace and tell them it matters what they wear in the streets. We need to educate our sons. We need the police to be part of the solution instead of the problem. We need to stop promoting a culture where any form of violence against women is acceptable. I express my deepest condolences to the family of Sarah Everard and the countless girls who have suffered similar fates. This is a global issue and change needs to be made, starting in London with justice for Sarah Everard.
If you would like to show your support you can sign this petition calling for the resignation of the Met chief of police, donate to Reclaim These Streets in Sarah's memory, and educate yourself and those around you to do better.