We are deeply saddened at Sarah’s death and send our heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends. Women should be safe to live their lives without fear and not to have to make constant adjustments in terms of staying safe.
Over the past week, before we heard about the tragic outcomes, we heard messages about women not walking by themselves late at night or doing other things that ‘put themselves at risk’. This is patronising towards women does not highlight the key message that women should not have to change their own behaviours, but men should stop killing women. By all accounts, Sarah had planned her walk home based on what we as women learn from an early age – wear bright clothes, walk down well-lit main streets and keep in contact with others – this is an everyday occurrence for all women and this needs to change as it is not enough to protect women.
The message is quite simple that men must stop their violence towards women. It is not for women to change their behaviours but for men. Simply putting the onus on women is not good enough.
As a specialist women’s organisation, we see far too often tragic consequences of violence at home, at work and in public places. The misogyny women and girls experience are rooted in the sexism they experience every day where male privilege and entitlement escalate to abuse and violence.
We need a zero tolerance to violence against women and it will take all of us to commit to lasting change and invest in the resources for education to change attitudes and a criminal justice system that protects women.