Thursday 11 March 2021

Will the World Ever Feel Safe Enough for my Daughter to Walk Home... Alone?

Many of us will have seen the news in recent days, the devastating news regarding the disappearance of Sarah Everard. Sarah's case is heart-breaking but so is the wider fact here, the fact that we are bringing our children into a scary world, a world where when a woman goes missing after walking home alone, we question WHY she was walking alone. 

This is 2021, but here we are with some people still presuming that when a woman goes missing after walking home alone she is somehow at fault, that she is somehow in the wrong. But when did we lose our right to walk home after dark or be alone at all for that matter? 

Reading through the Twitter feed is even more shocking and devastating, the fact that women do not feel safe. They don't feel safe in their own streets or towns. They don't feel safe when the sun sets or before it rises, they don't feel safe alone and that is quite frankly unacceptable. Woman are walking home with key between their fingers, with alarms in their pockets. They are making pretend phone calls and detailing every movement with their family and friends. They are walking the long way home to avoid lanes or dark spaces and they are afraid, afraid of being attacked just for going about their day. And our response is apps, gadgets on phones that ring 999 or text our friends. We invent alarms and signals are girls are sharing video calls girls can use on their phones and whilst all of these are great, they sum up the real problem here. Women are left trying to find a way to live like this when really this is no life at all. 

As a mum of a daughter that scares the heck out of me. I wonder what kind of world I'm bringing her into. When a woman is murdered walking home from her friends and some of the first questions asked are "why was she alone?" or "was she drunk?". When a woman goes missing and the local women are essentially placed under a curfew to protect them... what about placing the men on a curfew so that women can walk home from work safe and without fear!? 

Will the world ever feel safe enough where I won't worry about her getting a bus to college or getting a taxi home? Will there ever be a time I won't feel like I have to offer her a lift so she gets home "safe"? Or that she will feel safe wearing what she wants, walking where she wants...? 

I also see the #notallmen hashtag trending and I get it, I really do. Of course not all men are the same, we get it, we do. But if you have ever sat in a pub and listened to your friends make derogatory comments about women, or saw a man grope a woman at a club and not said anything then quite frankly you are part of it. You are part of the problem unless you stand up and say something, unless you talk to your friends and colleagues about why it is wrong. If you laughed along to feel "part of the group" or you turned a blind eye because "it was a mate", you are part of the problem. 

 I recently saw the saying -

Protect your Daughters
Educate your Sons!

I mean how right is that...? Why are we so focused on "protecting" our daughters when it is our sons who need educating. No means no! It isn't the start of a negotiation or a woman playing "hard to get" its no. Women should be able to go out and about, walk home at night, go to a club, jump in a taxi and just be able to say no without worrying about the repercussions of those actions. 

Our children are not born this way, they don't grow up being afraid to walk home or thinking its ok to touch women inappropriately. They learn it, they see it, they live it. Little jokes about women, belittling women, seeing women be blamed for things beyond their control. Women grow up believing they are to blame, that they have less rights. It has to end. It has to end NOW! Talk to your children, be a part of the conversation and the education for change. We are able to change the way an entire generation see both men and women. We are able to get the wheels in motion for a change but until that happens our daughters are not safe and that is the bottom line. 

Like many of you, I didn't actually know Sarah Everard but as a woman I know what its like to feel unsafe and vulnerable. I know what its like to be scared to walk home and as a mother I want a different world for my own children... a safe one, one without fear that walking home alone might get you killed. 


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