She Did Everything Right

On Monday, March 8, 2021, we celebrated International Women’s Day. Female empowerment was shared around the world. Women united together over their experiences and acknowledged the struggles women have faced in the past and still struggle with in other countries. Men celebrated the women in their lives, sharing their thanks and appreciation.

On Tuesday, March 9th, 2021, the media across the globe criticized, judged, and scrutinized a woman who said she felt suicidal in recent years. Tabloids, internet trolls, and the general public pushed her honesty aside and claimed she was acting for fame ridiculing her experience with mental health. Meghan Markle was picked apart by millions and laughed at for her interview with Prince Harry and Oprah when she dared to openly speak about her mental health. 

On Wednesday, March 10th, 2021, the body of a missing woman was discovered miles away from her home. She was last seen Wednesday, March 9 at 9 pm after leaving her friend's house. Sarah Everard did everything right the night she went missing. She walked on lit streets wearing shoes she could run in. She called her boyfriend. Her clothes were not “asking for it.” It is a reminder to women everywhere that they are not safe. In fact, as a result, women were told not to go out alone. 

It fills me with sadness that in Women’s History Month, on the week International Women’s Day takes place, we are yet reminded that there is still so much progress to be made in our world when it comes to gender equality. 

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash Now, whether you identify as male or female while reading this article, I want you to answer these questions. 

  • Have you ever texted someone “I’m home”?
  • Have you crossed the road to avoid someone?
  • Have you called someone and asked them to talk with you for a few minutes or even faked a phone call?
  • Have you held something in your hand like keys or pepper spray?
  • Have you held your breathe in fear while someone walks behind you?
  • Have you shared your location?
  • Have you not listened to music to hear the world around you? 

Personally, I have done all of these things. Especially when walking in the early evening alone on my university campus–a place where I used to live, so I should have felt like I was at my safest right? I’d be lying if I said that I don’t go to places without a constant fear in the back of my head that something could happen to me, even in broad daylight. It's a fear that many, if not all, women and some men share. Reading about what happened to Sarah Everard shook me to my core, not because I didn’t know cases like this happen, but because she did all the right things. She did all the things that my friends, my family, and I practice, yet she still wasn’t safe. That is what upsets me the most. 

Her death is a reminder that we are not safe.

In fact, 97% of UK women between the ages of 18-24 said they have been sexually harassed. Let that sink in a moment. 97% of women... Of those harassments, 80% happened in a public space. So, I ask of you reading this article to vow to do two things. Firstly, learn ways to protect yourself the best you can. Carry pepper spray. Share your location. Click your lock button on the iPhone five times to sound an alarm, call emergency services, and send a text to emergency contacts. Do send those messages telling others when your home. And if possible, always find an alternative to being alone, especially at night. 

Secondly, if you ever hear someone having a conversation or sharing a joke about the safety of women or being derogatory towards women in general, stop them and talk to them because harassment needs to be stopped, along with victim-blaming. It is not cool. 

Women should be able to walk home alone. I should be able to walk home alone. My friends should be able to walk home alone. My mother. My sister. My cousin. My aunt. Maybe one day even my daughter should be able to walk home alone without fear. We need to talk about this and we need to talk about it with men so they understand what it can mean to be a woman as they will never fully know. 

Women sitting on brown wooden bench Photo by RF._.Studio from Pexels