On March 3rd, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered on her way home, 48-year-old police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged with her murder. Her death sparked many protests around the world and led to new discussions about male violence against women.
The reason why so many people are angry after the killing of Sarah Everard is, because her story sounds all too familiar to women around the world. Every woman I know, has experienced some form of sexual harassment in their life, or made feel uncomfortable or unsafe by a man. Every woman I know, knows what it feels like to ask your friends to track your location on your way home, or to wish that the taxi driver would stop staring at your legs, or to pray that the guys following you for the past 15 min would just turn around.
An investigation by UN Women UK released on March 10th 2021 warns that 97% of women in the UK aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed in their life. Maastricht has an Instagram page called “Cat Calls of Maastricht” dedicated to documenting the experiences of street harassment and catcalling. Hearing things like “Hey, pretty lady. Come with us” ,“nice ass” or getting called a bitch, happens so regularly that women don't even mention it anymore.
But harassment is not a compliment and it’s exhausting to life with the fear of it on a daily basis. And it's not only the actual harassment, it's how society treats it. In too many cases it's the woman who gets the blame. “You asked for it”, “why didn't you defend yourself ?”, or “he just meant it as a compliment” are sentences that every woman knows.
In response to the current discussion the hashtag #NotAllMen is currently trending again. And yes we know not all men, but enough! Enough, that maybe we shouldn’t sit our daughters down and lecture them on how to “dress safely” but rather our sons and tell them how to act respectful. And maybe it’s time to listen to women’s experiences and demands and actually act upon them.
Line-Marie Eichhorst, European Law student