London is burning with indignation and anger. Yet another femicide sparked the protests and raised heated debates. The victim’s name was Sarah Everard, she was 33 years old and on the evening of March 3rd she left a friend’s house in the Clapham area to walk towards her home, but Sarah never returned home.
She worked for a digital media agency, she was young, full of life and, like many other girls, she was walking back home. She did a very normal thing, and just in doing something so ordinary she was killed by a man.
Her body was found on March 10th in the Kent countryside, several kilometers from London. A metropolitan police officer in the British capital was charged with her kidnapping and murder.
It is horrible to use Sarah Everard’s death as yet another testimony to the fact that there are men who consider women as objects and how a woman cannot be free to go home alone without risking being raped or killed, however it is a necessary comparison, since Sarah has become just another victim of a system that in these situations is more concerned with emphasizing that “not all men” or “not all policemen” are murderers or rapists, or both. The solar and smiling girl is now a number.
But why has the death of Sarah Everard sparked debates and protests, which last month resulted in clashes between the women present at the vigil for Sarah and the police?
The indignation exploded because in London, and now in many other places in the world, evidently, people are outraged and fed up. The modalities of Sarah Everard’s unacceptable end have struck a nerve, something that is still too little talked about. Does anyone want to put in the spotlight the fact that a girl was kidnapped, raped and killed by a policeman on her way home? In addition to the news that makes our skin crawl, why does no one talk about how serious it is that in 2021, in a large European capital, women do not feel safe going home alone in the evening?
Writing these words weighs a lot because the injustice of still having to talk about women crushed in the part of ‘victims’, of something they cannot control and for which they have no responsibility, carry an immense weight. Yet the very sad reality that every woman living in a big city knows is that going home alone is not an easy thing.
For those who have lost the news case, let’s make a very brief summary: Sarah Everard disappeared on March 3rd and for days the investigation of the 33-year old woman was conducted, until it led to the arrest of a Scotland Yard police officer.
Sarah Everard was not roaming late at night, it wasn’t even 9pm when she left her friend’s house to go back to her neighborhood. Clapham is not considered a particularly dangerous neighborhood in London, in fact it is a rather quiet area. Sarah Everard set out at 9pm, making sure to choose a well-lit path and staying on the phone with her boyfriend for most of the time.
Metropolitan women do these seem like familiar mechanisms to you? I think so! Sarah Everard behaved the way we all would.
Although we should have the sacrosanct freedom not to worry about what might happen by taking a short, well-lit walk at nine o’clock in the evening, we are all forced to confront reality. We all know that Sarah Everard did what we would have done, she was prudent and responsible. Nonetheless, this was not enough. Her executioner kidnapped her, massacred her and abandoned her body in the middle of the countryside.
This is what happened and this is what has sparked debates everywhere, from social networks to parliament, and a wave of protests that do not stop.
Many women have come together to talk and strengthen each other, because every one of them, at least once in their life have been harassed, catcalled or just haven’t felt safe to walk a street alone. All the women gathered for Sarah have talked about how to protect us and, once again, it is the women who must learn to protect themselves and not the men who are not violent.
In London as elsewhere, women are fed up, of not being able to enjoy even the right to take a short walk in complete peace. In this distinct year, which has taken away so many freedoms and conditioned our life, is it perhaps easier to realize that there are lives which are more affected than others?
Just take a tour of the online forums and social networks to read the deluge of disheartening testimonies of women who tell their thoughts when they return home alone in the evening, or when they go for a run in the park, or when they walk even in sunny streets. Women are tired of experiencing ‘conditioned’ freedom even in the smallest things. Sarah Everard’s terrible and unacceptable end has only brought to the surface a situation that is no longer fair to endure, much less considered normal.