On the 3rd of March at 9pm, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was reported missing after exiting a friend’s house near Clapham Junction. The police reported that Miss Everard was returning to her home in Brixton, with the journey supposed to take around 50 minutes. Scotland Yard’s Specialist Crime Command led the investigation due to the ‘complex nature’ of Miss Everard’s disappearance.
On the afternoon of the 10th of March, Scotland Yard confirmed that a police officer was arrested on suspicion of murdering Miss Everard. The police officer was later identified as Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old serving in the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. The 48-year-old officer was first arrested on suspicion of kidnap, before being further arrested for suspicion of murder. Furthermore, on the evening of this day, police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick declared that human remains were found in Ashford, Kent, in a woodland area. Yet on the afternoon of the 12th March, the police confirmed that the human remains were formally identified as Miss Everard’s body.
Since the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, many have come forth calling for #justiceforsaraheverard as well as calling for the government to take serious action for women’s safety. Many have come forward with their own stories and moments of when they have felt unsafe and frightened, such as experiences of walking alone on the streets. Grace Jessup tells BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat that she knew she had to ‘change her behaviour’ so that she could keep herself safe. She says that she never goes out without informing a friend and having them text her to ensure that she is home safe, or the other way around. “If you don’t, they’ll follow up with you, and they’ll make sure that you’re safe. Because we have learned nobody is going to protect us,” Grace adds.
On social media, many have made videos speaking about their experiences or giving tips on how women can protect themselves and keep themselves safe, using the hashtag #97%. For instance, several videos have recommended downloading the app ‘Hollie Guard’. The app was created in honour of Hollie Gazzard, a 20-year-old hairdresser who was murdered in 2014. The app was designed to provide more protection, with features such as the ‘journey’ feature, where your emergency contacts are notified once you have arrived at your destination. If you have not reached your destination at the ideal time, the app will send alerts to your contacts. The app would update every 5 seconds on your precise location, as well as the speed and movement activity.
Whilst the death of Sarah Everard was tragic, many other women, especially of minority ethnic and lower-class background who have also suffered tragic fates. Furthermore, it can be argued that women with such backgrounds may be even more vulnerable, due to several reasons, such as lack of resources. As a result, they may even be ‘easier targets.’ Professor Lawrence Sherman of the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, states that ‘substantial racial inequality’ is found within the ‘risks of being murdered.’ For example, though tracking and safety apps are a positive technological development, many disadvantaged women do not have the resources or know-how to access such options. Cambridge criminologists have also found that the risk of murder for young black people is 24 times higher in comparison to white people. Furthermore, according to the last 3 years of data, homicide rates of white people aged between 16-24 had dropped by 57%. Yet within young black people aged between 16-24, the homicide rate had increased by 31%. The homicide rates are clearly disproportionate.
We, at JAN Trust, provide our deepest condolences for Sarah’s family and all families of those women lost to senseless violence. The danger that women experience daily, from doing as little as going out on walks, is unjustifiable and cannot be condoned. Regardless of ethnicity, race, or religious background, no woman deserves to face a fate such as Sarah Everard’s. This not only highlights the danger that women face daily, but also emphasises that action must be taken, for women to feel safe.
Furthermore, we also recognise that victims may find it very difficult to come forth and seek help. Thus, JAN Trust offers training to organisations on numerous issues, including domestic violence, FGM, forced marriages, extremism, radicalisation and hate crime.