Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman from London, was reported dead after the police found remains of her body on March 12. Everard was missing for a week and a Metropolitan Police officer has been charged for kidnapping and sexually assaulting her.
What happened to Everard is awful and not an isolated event.
According to a study done by the UN Women United Kingdom, more than 70% of women and girls in the U.K. have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. This problem can be seen in America, as well.
Stop Street Harassment found that 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
As a woman, I can attest to the fact that women are taught to always be on guard. We are told to not “be a victim” and always be aware of our surroundings. Do not go out late at night and never alone. Lock your doors as soon as you get in the car, carry pepper spray with you and always look over your shoulder.
So why does the burden of safety fall on women and not men, who are a primary source of violence?
There is the idea in society that it is a woman’s responsibility to protect herself from male violence, and when she fails to do so or her choices are not enough, her fate is justified.
Not only is this a horrible mindset to have but it sets women up for failure. It contributes to the idea that women are objects just waiting to be harassed by men.
There is a saying circulating on social media right now that shows the words “protect your daughter” crossed out and written under it is “educate your sons.”
This constant state of fear has been embedded into the minds of millions of women from the time they are little girls. At a certain point you start to wonder if anything can really protect you from the fate Everard faced.
I saw a tweet that I felt perfectly encompassed my frustration: “This Sarah Everard situation is really scaring me, because she literally spoke to her [boyfriend] on the phone, wore really bright clothing, walked on a main road, was outside before 12am, and she still got killed? Do you know how scary as a woman it is to know that?”