The tragic and violent ending that Sarah Everard endured on March 3rd while walking home in South London was a sickening reminder of the violence that many women face and that many of us fear. Despite the abundance of precautions, she took in order to keep herself safe, her life was unfairly taken from her through an act of unjust violence. The conversation surrounding the violence against women can be uncomfortable and many of us may have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that is something we have to face. The violence that women face should not be as prevalent as it is but unfortunately up to one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, and while gender-based violence can happen to anyone, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable such as, young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with disabilities.
This is a human rights violation that everyone, including men, should be concerned and talking about. Violence can have negative effects on a women’s general well-being and can prevents us from being able to fully participate in society out of fear, and it is time that we have this conversation. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations in our world and it remains largely unreported due to the silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. In times like this, men are actually the ally that women need. We need men to have this conversation with other men and speak up when they see something that should not be happening, and men should not feel that they have to remain silent just because it is not happening to them. To start this conversation about the injustice and violence women face, there are certain things people must know in order to make a safe and productive difference.
Firstly, it is important to listen to and believe survivors. When a woman decides to share her experiences of violence, this is a hard but crucial step in breaking the cycle. It is on us to give her the safe space that she needs in order for her to speak up and feel heard. It is also important to avoid discussing the victim’s sobriety and clothing that were present at the time of the assault. These conversations are crucial for teaching the next generation of men and women and the examples that are set for the younger generation shape the way they think about gender. These types of conversations should not only be happening in response to an act of violence against a woman, and the topic of consent and accountability should be happening early on. We may not have the power to go back and change the past, but we do have the ability to alter the present and change the future. Speak up about the violence against women, not just for yourself, but for all of the women around the world.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any from a violence, here is a link to different hotline numbers that might fit your needs.