Thursday, January 20

The Sarah Everard case stirs up horrible memories. So little has changed over the years | UK News


YA few ears ago, on a frost-covered early morning, something caught my eye as I passed the local cemetery: a mannequin lying on a tombstone. It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, a body, naked from the waist down.

The police took a statement. This should have been the scope of my participation. I was unable to identify the murder victim or add any other useful details. However, during the following week, an officer stopped by my apartment several times without prior notice to “update me on the case.” On his last visit, he showed me a card he had made for a colleague as a joke, a post-mortem photo of the victim with a helmet and added mustache, transforming the dead woman, he said, into the spitting image of his boss. . As horror took my speech, he asked me out.

I thought of that encounter after the shocking news about Sarah Everard’s disappearance, and that a suspect, Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, was being held for questioning about her kidnapping and murder. I thought about it when I read about the “reassuring patrols” deployed in the area where Everard was taken away, the visible presence of Couzens’ colleagues was somehow supposed to make women feel more secure. Should the Met be investigating or investigating? This question gained urgency with reports that the force is facing an investigation into whether it properly examined the claim that Couzens had been exposed in a restaurant, days before Everard’s disappearance.

I thought so when the Today show responded to the torrent of anger and grief over Everard by booking an interview with a criminologist named Prof Marian FitzGerald. Many women had taken to social media with their own stories of bullying and bullying. The announcer Shelagh Fogarty, for example, tweeted a list of bad things that had happened to her, starting with a man who followed her home from school when she was 10 and culminating four decades later with a stalker who terrorized her for three years.

FitzGerald’s response to similar testimonials, some of which were read at the beginning of the segment, was dismissive: “Perhaps I have the right to say that as a woman we should not indulge in stereotypes and get hysterical,” she said. She recommended “the kind of precautions I’ve always taken when walking around London late at night, knowing where to walk, where not to walk, how to hold on” and rounded off her appearance with the observation that the risk to women “has not “t changed in a long time.”

This last point was true, but not in the way she meant it. The reason I can’t get rid of the memory of a police officer’s unwanted attentions and the grotesque misuse of a victim’s image is precisely because so little has changed in the intervening years. Back then, when I was 20 years old, I assumed that progress was just happening without us doing anything to push it forward. Equality shone on the near horizon. I understood violence simply as an interaction between individuals rather than grasping its systemic and cultural dimensions and the ways in which the institutions that should combat it often host and enable it. Learning about these dimensions came at a personal cost that underscores my activism and helped propel Sandi Toksvig and me to create the Women’s Equality Party in 2015.

Yes, there are psychopaths who are born without social construction, but even bad apples take their cues from their environment, with studies that suggest that the behaviors of male psychopaths may differ from female psychopaths based on gender lines dictated by their upbringing and environment. Violence is rarely random, despite how often this phrase appears. Your goals are predetermined by learned hatreds, not inherent ones.

The daily sexism that I knew in my youth, the routine sexualization and dehumanization of women, has not disappeared, as have other ideologies that start from the idea that some humans are worth less than others. On the contrary, these things have found channels and online amplification platforms and are enjoying a terrible resurgence.

The Crown Prosecution Service is evaluating charges against two Met police officers accused of taking selfies in front of the bodies of the murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, then sharing those images on WhatsApp. These days, women still walk home with keys threaded around their knuckles eagerly, only to turn on their computers and find death and rape threats. We are supposed to ignore these things, treat them as normal, rather than normalized.

Well, I’m not ready to do it. Plans for remote vigils and the protests and the continuing wave of personal testimonies suggest that many, many others feel like me. This is facing opposition from the metropolitan police, who are banning the planned Reclaim These Streets vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday night despite care by organizers to ensure Covid safety compliance. I joined more than 200 women, MPs, party colleagues, charity workers and others to sign a letter calling for action to address violence against women and girls. And that action is long overdue. Women are leading the calls, but it is time for men to step up.

We can better honor victims of violence not only by demanding that their perpetrators face justice, but by challenging systems and cultures that allow violence and blame victims. I am looking at Westminster with its inability to address its own culture of abusive behavior. his own research from 2018 found that one in five people who worked there had suffered harassment. I am looking at the media, reflectively denying my own guilt as I toss out stories that diminish, divide, and dehumanize. And I’m looking at those charged with protecting us. I remember one winter morning and all these years later, I still feel the cold.




www.theguardian.com

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