Women’s charities advocate for female safety

Charities led by women, for women, have called for societal and governmental changes to improve women’s safety following the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens. 

Lord Justice Fulford set a legal precedent in the Old Bailey by giving Couzens a whole-life sentence, which had never before been done for someone who had committed a single murder.

Solace Women’s Aid, a London-based charity that supports women and children against violence, said: “This epidemic of male violence has to end, both on our streets and in our homes.  

“We ask that the response to male violence is prioritised in the same way that terrorism is, and to root out the misogyny that clearly exists within it. We are calling for immediate and substantive change at every level. Enough is enough.” 

Angela Salt, CEO of Girl Guiding UK, said: “It’s clear how unsafe girls and women feel in their everyday lives. Living with this fear is damaging girls’ mental health with many feeling increasingly anxious, worried and scared. This is unacceptable.” 

In a statement after Everard’s murder in March, then-leader of Kingston Council Caroline Kerr said: “It’s not women’s responsibility to keep themselves safe –  it is the responsibility of men not to pose a danger to women, and it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns and help keep every woman and girl in Kingston safe.” 

It was on March 3 2021 that Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was ‘simply walking home’ from a friend’s house in Clapham to her home in Brixton. On September 18, another woman, 28-year-old schoolteacher Sabrina Ness, was killed in Cator Park when she was walking to meet a friend at a bar in Kidbrooke village.

Other all-female charities such as Girl Guiding UK expressed concern for how women’s lack of safety has affected their mental health. 

“Women’s safety must not be compromised. The government, and society, must take urgent action to ensure girls and women are safe. No longer can the burden fall on girls and women alone to try to make this change,” Salt said. 

Alice Smith, a Rainbow and Brownie leader and a Girl Guiding advocate, said: “How many times do you go the long way round to avoid the areas you feel unsafe? Or carry keys in your hand as you walk home? Or change into your trainers so that you can walk faster? Or call someone on your way home so that they know where you are?

“We teach girls to develop an internal risk calculator. Why? We need to look at the values we are teaching boys and girls and to take this issue seriously. It needs to change.”

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