Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend on the night of March 3rd and she did everything right. She walked in a lit-up street, wore bright colors and called her boyfriend on the way home. Even though she did everything right she still got kidnapped and eventually, murdered in the woods. The fact that the man in custody is a policeman makes the whole incident even worse. The unsafety of women is a global societal issue, and we need to recognize the problem and learn how to be good allies.
As a woman, the safety precautions I take on a daily basis have been imprinted in my head since I was 15 years old. I have experienced sexual harassments and stalking from unknown men almost every time when I have walked home from the club or a late night out. It has become my reality. And unfortunately, it is the reality for almost all women. All the women I have ever talked to have similar experiences as me, more or less. The safety precautions I take does not even feel like precautions anymore, they are just an integral part of the life as a woman in the public space.
We have all held the keys between our fingers when we walk home late at night.
We have all felt our heartbeat racing when we walk past a group of men.
We have all shared our live locations to friends and family, just in case.
We have all speeded up our steps if a man walks behind us at night.
We have all felt a sense of worry when we get into a taxi.
The life of a woman is a life of constant fear in the back of our heads, because you never know. You do not know if the man that walks behind you are a good guy or a bad guy. You do not know if the taxi driver will harm you or drive you home safely. We do not know. It means that we constantly have to be alert and ready to run or defend ourselves when we walk home late at night. Men need to recognize the problem and learn how to be good allies and help women the best way they can.
- If you are walking behind a woman at night, switch sides and walk on the other side of the street. This means more to us than you think.
- Speak up when your friends say something sexist and speak up at the workplace, if a woman is being mistreated. For men to speak up to other men is one of the most powerful tools if we want to change the attitudes. Men listen to other men.
- Listen to women’s stories and acknowledge their feelings and experiences. Do not question the validity or dismiss their feelings as exaggerated.
- Speak up for women although understand that women have been fighting long and hard before you, and do not take credit on behalf of other women.
- Make women feel safe; in the workplace, in school and in public by respecting their personal space and respect when a woman says no. Even if you have the best intentions, we do not know that.
Together can we make the world a little better and a little safer for women everywhere.