Think back to the beginning of the year. I think we can all recall the Sarah Everard case. A case that shocked the country, but more importantly shook women to their core. Sarah, doing everything right, was walking home when she was targeted by someone we’re all told to trust.
Wayne Couzens was a police officer and had been since 2002. Having planned the attack, but not the victim, he used his position to “hunt” Sarah, like a deer. Any one of us could have been Sarah and any one of us could be Sarah. We too could have put our trust in someone we believed to be trustworthy, and have this trust betrayed. But Sarah’s case is not isolated. If you think about it, to a certain extent, us women put our trust in clubs and security when we go out and we too get betrayed.
Clubs have a duty of care, so how come us women are getting spiked on nights out more than ever before? With an increase in reports of spiking and new reports of needle spiking, why isn’t something being done about it? Women unfortunately cannot keep themselves safe on their own. I have been told from an early age, put keys between your fingers, watch what you wear, don’t wear headphones, don’t walk down alleyways and keep to main roads, drink your drink at the bar or cover it, don’t accept drinks from strangers etc. just to have the security that I’ll be safe.
I take all these precautions, change my way of life to accommodate my safety yet I am still not safe. Women are not safe without allies. We need and rely on others to keep us safe, which hardly seems fair. Especially when those we rely on, such as the police and clubs, now seem to be untrustworthy and unreliable themselves.
Of course, I’d just like to say I am in no way saying all police are like Couzens and all clubs don’t care for our safety. My point exactly is that clubs have limited precautions in place, other than searches, that protect women and if they take any more precautions they’re not advertised anywhere on the website or in the buildings.
So how can you be an ally? And how can we make a change? What can we do that will reinforce the trust that women have so far lost?
Allyship depends on men being aware of their privilege and being ready to leave their assumptions and accepted norms behind. They need to actively listen and have empathy, without being defensive or feeling attacked. Men also need to be prepared to call out inequality and stand up to confront harmful norms. They need to exercise and use their voice to challenge and educate other men, the way us women do. Education is the key to ally success; for a man who is educated in women’s experiences and prepared to use his voice to extend the female voice, is an active ally. Which are exactly what women need now.
They also need to help in the campaign. Signing and sharing petitions and emailing MPs and clubs pushing for change are good places to start. Getting involved in the Girl’s Night In club boycotts, following pages on Instagram and participating in other demonstrations would show support and solidarity for the cause also and help strengthen the male presence within the cause.
These are just a few things men can do to become active allies. Campaigning is the momentum behind change. Ask yourself, have you signed the petitions circulating at the moment? Have you emailed clubs asking for their security precautions and asking them to do more? Are you too being active in the change? Active in the fight?
Violence against women stops now and good, active allyship begins today, so are you with us?
If you feel particularly affected by any topic in this article, a few helplines and websites that may help you are linked below:
Nottingham University report tool for any victims of harassment, sexual assault and many other hate crimes, reportandsupport.nottingham.ac.uk/
Nottingham Nightline, www.nottinghamnightline.co.uk/
Victim Support UK, www.victimsupport.org.uk/
Rainn sexual assault support, www.rainn.org/after-sexual-assault
If you think you have been a victim of spiking, please report it to the police.