OPINION: UK Murder Case Shows Needs for More Awareness of Violence Against Women


Al Jazeera

A sign and flowers placed at a memorial site for Sara Everard, who was kidnapped and killed in the UK in March.

The name Sara Everard has been all over the internet. The 30-year-old UK woman was kidnapped and killed after walking home from a friend’s house one night, despite the fact that she was walking down a well-lit street with lots of people, wearing bright clothing, and had called her boyfriend to let him know when she would be home. She did all of the things that society says women need to do to stay safe, yet this still happened to her. Her killer was a police officer who had apparently been stalking her.

Since I heard about this story I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and posting about it. I’m not alone. Sarah’s story has prompted a lot of women to post about it, and to talk about their stories of sexual assault. 

Why such a reaction? Part of the reason is because of society’s attitude toward women. Men give women “tips” to stay safe, such as “say no”, “cover up”, and “don’t show that much skin”. If women don’t follow these, then “they were asking for it”. They say these things, but then want us to do the complete opposite in social situations. There are so many double standards that society has for women. More needs to be done to not only help women feel safer, but to let them know that they are not alone and that it’s OK to report sexual assault, and to bring more of an awareness to the topic.

In recent years, many movements have started to bring awareness to sexual assault, such as the Me Too movement. Currently on social media, “97 percent” has been going around. This percentage represents the number of women who have been sexually assaulted; however, it is thought to be more. Movements such as these have tried to bring awareness to the topic, yet they never get attention for long. The Me Too movement was a big deal around 2017, sparked by allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, but quickly died down. There have been small bursts of protesting since then but nothing major. Now, Sara’s story has sparked the conversation again, but it is still on a small scale. 

The controversy is pitting men and women against one another. It re-sparked rumors on TikTok posted by women accusing men of posting videos promoting April 24 as “National Rape Day” as a day when rape and sexual assault would be legal. A spokesperson for TikTok said: “The supposed ‘National Rape Day’ trend being reported upon is abhorrent and would be a direct violation of our Community Guidelines, and while we haven’t seen evidence of this trending on our platform, our safety team remains vigilant and would remove any such content.” The fact-checking site Snopes concluded that “National Rape Day” is a tasteless hoax that has been around for a few years. Even though this was just a hoax, it stems from the way society perceives sexual assault and how women are treated as a result. 

Men and women need to work together to bring more awareness and end some of the stigma surrounding sexual assault. This needs to be taken seriously and is not a joke. Women who have experienced sexual assault need to feel as though their experiences are valid and they are supported.