On March 3 of 2021, Sarah Everad, a 33 year old woman, disappeared on a walk home in south London. She was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by London Metropolitan Police officer, Waye Couzens, who was arrested on March 10. This case has led to a series of protests from women in the London area, as people are desperately trying to bring attention to the staggering violence against women. Sarah Everad’s death is deeply mourned by people all across the globe and many are hoping for justice.
Unfortunately, this is just one of thousands of cases of disappearances and murders of young women. For men, this case represents one woman who died of an undeserved death. For women, it propels the already existing fear and threats that come with simply living in a society dominated by men. Research conducted by UN Women UK has revealed that 97% of young women in the United Kingdom have experienced sexual harassment or assault. This statistic is far too high for this issue to continue being overlooked.
The violence towards women is a global issue, and women in all countries are affected by it. My experience in California is very similar to the experiences that women in the UK have come forward about. One of my experiences that I recall very often is when I was walking home and a car pulled up next to me. My immediate reaction was to contemplate running away, but there was really no place for me to go because I was walking along a long sidewalk in a neighborhood, which meant that there was nowhere for me to turn. The man in the car was an uber driver, who looked to be well into his thirties. He kept complimenting me and asking me for my phone number, without taking “no” for an answer. Though I was sixteen at the time, I lied and told him I was only fourteen, to which he apologized and drove away. This situation made me feel so shaken and afraid. I felt violated in so many ways. Even if I was a legal adult, that behavior is still incredibly disgusting. The man's behavior was highly inappropriate and his refusal to stop after my first objection meant he had no respect for my boundaries. Though this incident was not violent, it perpetuates the idea that men are entitled to a woman's body and mind, which often results in sexual assault and violence. It also shows that this type of harassment occurs at an international scale.
Right now, many people including myself feel mentally exhausted. It is so tiring to see news of these attacks, day after day, with no improvements. What happened to Sarah Everad is beyond sickening, but it did spark many discussions about this topic. This is an important step towards helping women, spreading awareness, and listening to the struggles that we go through. It is so vital that we stand with victims of sexual assault. While it is very important, spreading awareness and showing support is not enough. If you identify as a man or a boy, you need to be asking yourself the following questions. Do you blame victims? Do you watch rape porn? Do you make or laugh at rape jokes? Do you remain friends with people that have been called out for predatory behavior? Do you blindly defend your favorite musician, actor, or influencer when they get accused of predatory behavior? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to genuinely reflect on your actions. This form of behavior encourages rape culture, and it makes society a dangerous place for women to live in. It is important to recognize that not all men are like this, however, all women are affected by it. In the patriarchal society, the collective group of men hold power over women. A lot of men choose to abuse this power by controlling, intimidating, or harassing women. There are men who are not like this, but they should not be rewarded by simply doing the bare minimum. I encourage the innocent men to do more than just bystand these actions, and instead, actively support victims by standing up against sexual assault.
Violence against women is a world-wide crisis, and it is up to men to make a difference. Women get harassed, sexually assaulted, beaten, and killed by men at a disproportionate rate. Gender-based violence is a major issue, but we can all do our part to make an impact. Spreading awareness, believing victims, and calling out predatory behavior makes a big change and will lead us in the right direction to a safer society. It is deeply saddening that this discussion arose in the mainstream media at the expense of Sarah Everad and so many other victims. I truly mourn for Sarah and her family. May she rest in peace.
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