Recently while scrolling through Instagram, I noticed that a lot of my female friends were reposting information and graphics relating to a woman named Sarah Everard. After reading more into the story, it became clear to me that Sarah’s story was a story we had all been told as little girls. A cautionary tale to not walk alone at night, in Sarah’s case one that ended devastatingly at the hands of an alleged UK Police Officer. Sarah Everard was walking home alone in South London last week when she “went missing”. Mangled remains were found days later, eventually being identified as those of Everard. The prime suspect as of now is a South London cop who is currently being questioned on charges of kidnapping and murder. Following Sarah’s disappearance has been an uproar of social media support and countless women sharing their experiences and fears about going out at night. London police released a statement telling women to “try to not go out at night”, which unsurprisingly created even more of an uproar.
There lies the injustice, in the absolute ignorance of a male dominated organization to suggest that women do not go out at night. If, in this case, the cop is the one that abducted Sarah shouldn’t cops be the ones advised to not go out at night? The blatant victim blaming essentially insinuates that if Everard had not been walking at night she would still be here and shows a general lack of respect for women. It is not her fault, nor should any woman have to only leave the house during daylight. The righteousness of a man in a position of authority to dictate what a woman should and should not do, regardless of her status as a victim, is a blatant example of the systemic misogyny that exists within police systems.
Other women have come out publicly sharing stories of sexual assault, rape, and general misogyny they have experienced in the UK. A portion of these stories relate directly to police systems, categorizing misogynistic hate crimes as an institutional level issue. The systemic sexism that exists within the London Police specifically is radically destroying any trust women had in their local cops to keep them safe. In response to this notion, hate crimes driven by misogyny are now illegal in England and Wales and allegedly investigations into 6,000 cases have been reopened. This is definitively a step in the right direction, however, in practice there must be a shift in mentality before women can be free of the violence that is typically associated with men in power and deeply rooted sexism.