Women don’t feel safe… and it’s time for men to take responsibility

On the evening of March 3, 2021, Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend’s house near Clapham Common when she went missing.

Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police offer, was arrested on March 9, firstly on suspicion of Sarah’s kidnapping and later on suspicion of her murder.

Sadly, on March 10, her remains were discovered in woodland and two days later Couzens was charged with kidnapping and murder.

In a statement, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence.”

And Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated that London streets are not safe for women or girls.

Sarah’s tragic death has highlighted a major issue we have been living with for far too long. It is simply not safe for women or girls to be out alone, especially at night.

Men have since said that it isn’t only women that don’t feel safe when walking alone, but I can guarantee it is other men that make them feel unsafe, not women.

Women and girls have always been wary when out alone or at night, but since Sarah’s death we have felt the need to take extra precautions, mainly by buying products to keep us safe, most commonly, rape alarms.

Whilst most women would probably prefer to carry a weapon or pepper spray, this is illegal, so a rape alarm is the next best option. It’s discreet, easy to use and can quickly alert people that you are in a potentially dangerous situation.

In the months leading up to Sarah’s death, rape alarms were around £2 to buy, they have since increased to between £5 and £10, like any products do when they are in high demand.

The rapid increase in price has demonstrated how many more women are feeling the need to purchase these kinds of safety products.

Lucy M, from Manchester, revealed to me how she felt the need to purchase a rape alarm after a frightening ordeal after leaving work late at night.

She said: “Around a year ago a man (who I presumed to be homeless) followed me into work, I didn’t really think anything of it at first because I work in hospitality.

“When I finished my shift 8 hours earlier, the same man was loitering outside my work, by this time it was nearing 12am, and he followed me on my way to the car. He was really close behind me and I was nervous I was going to be attacked.

“I purchased the rape alarm shortly after that and now a family member always picks me up if I’m working a late shift.”

The case of Sarah Everard also influenced Lucy’s decision to purchase safety products.

“The Sarah Everard case highlighted the importance of women needing to feel safe and this increased my anxiety.

“I started sharing my location with my mum whenever I went out alone. I just didn’t feel safe.”

Women are and have been doing their bit to stay safe, even before Sarah Everard’s tragic death. What needs to happen now is for men to accept that women feel unsafe, whether they agree with this or not.

It isn’t all men, but it is enough of them to cause women to feel this way and take these precautions.

It’s time to have conversations that make you feel uncomfortable because by talking about this and actively making changes is the only way we’re going to solve this issue.

Women and girls are told not to walk alone, not to walk at night, to carry a weapon, to ring someone if we’re alone. What we should be doing is telling men and boys not to sexually harass and murder us and to call out friends or family that are behaving in this way.

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