Letter signed by one of the Liberal Democrat Councillors for Evendons is published in Wokingham.Today
We need men to take accountability
Last week was a difficult week for women. We started by celebrating International Women’s Day on Monday.
The celebrations were cut swiftly short by a well-known, male TV presenter vilifying a young, prominent woman who was brave enough to share her truth regarding her mental health.
The next day a serving officer in the Metropolitan police was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Sarah Everard, a young woman who went missing in south London on her walk home from a friend’s house. Her remains were sadly identified on Friday.
Every woman has felt unsafe on a journey home. We’ve taken a longer route home that’s better lit, we’ve held keys between our fingers, we’ve crossed the road just to check if the person behind us is following, we’ve made a pretend phone call and we’ve arranged to call/text our friend when we get home.
Many people have responded to the outpouring of grief and stories being shared on social media to say, “Hey, wait! #Not all Men”. We understand that, but it is ALL women who do not feel safe, and we can’t tell which men it is.
We also learned, in a report that surprised not a single woman, that 97% of young women in the UK have been subjected to sexual harassment.
On Thursday, MP Jess Phillips read out the names of 118 women who have been killed in the UK over the last year where a man has been charged or convicted. We know these women’s names due to the work of Karen Ingala Smith who collects this data on an annual basis because there are no official statistics. Two women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or ex-partner. This has increased to one every three days since the first lockdown.
Femicide is an epidemic yet we neither measure it nor seek to address it. It is something we have accepted as part of life. Since Sarah Everard went missing last week, six women and a little girl have been killed in the UK.
We finished the week on Mother’s Day, a subdued bookend to a horrific week. We opened the papers and checked social media on Sunday morning to be confronted with images of police manhandling women to the ground.
Women who had brought flowers and gathered outside, peacefully, in remembrance of Sarah Everard and all women who have been the victims of male violence. To those who say the gathering should not have taken place due to the pandemic, I remind you that we are also in the midst of an epidemic; an epidemic of male violence.
The response to violence against women is that women should behave differently. Women should not walk home alone, not go out after dark, be mindful of what we are wearing, we should wear headphones, we should not wear headphones, we should leave…
There is no end to the advice given to women, yet despite decades of this advice nothing changes.
Women are not the problem. It’s time to stop victim blaming and hold men accountable. According to the Office of National Statistics 93% of convicted murderers are men.
What are we doing as a society to address the direct thread linking the acceptance of sexist jokes, cat-calling, street harassment, domestic violence, all the way through to the abduction and murder of women and the murder of 118 women a year by their partners? The tolerance of misogyny in all its forms leads to a society where we are not safe on the streets, nor in our own homes.
We need men to take accountability for the solutions. We need you to speak up and challenge the acceptance of these horrific statistics. Because they are not just statistics, each one is a person’s life. Male allies need to be as appalled as women and you need to be vocal in your outrage: Speak up and speak out when you encounter sexism in all its forms, including supposedly innocent sexist banter and lewd remarks.
Talk to your sons, don’t just focus on protecting your daughters. We all stand to gain from a society in which we are safe, and we all need to take responsibility to make it safe.
Louise Timlin – Branch Leader, Women’s Equality Party, Reading and Wokingham
Vickie Robertson – CEO Kaleidoscopic UK
Cllr Sarah Kerr – Wokingham Liberal Democrats
See this and other letters here: https://www.wokingham.today/readers-letters-as-seen-in-the-print-edition-of-wokingham-today-of-march-18-2020/