Following the death of Sarah Everard*, which ignited widespread grief and rage, there has been an increase in reports issued through the media with a heavy focus on women’s safety and questioning whether there is enough being done to protect women in this new day and age, invoking the Women's Safety Movement.
What is the Women's Safety Movement?
Everard's death sparked a nationwide discussion about women's safety. In response to the recently drafted law that would potentially give the police authority to disrupt demonstrations and the unveiling of her death, led to thousands of protestors assembling in Parliament Square (London) to pay tribute to women who have been killed by police officers or abused whilst in state custody, with their resentment centered towards the Metropolitan Police and the government. However, over the past year, this was not the first time concerns about women's safety has been sparked following the deaths of African-American woman Breonna Taylor, who died as a result of police last year, and 21-year-old black British woman Blessing Olusegun, whose body was found on a beach and whose death was ruled as "unexplained"; there failed to be much coverage from the media.
What is #ReclaimTheseStreets ?
'Reclaim These Streets' was formed by a group of women over their collective outrage and grief ensuing the death of Sarah Everard. RTS coordinated a social distancing vigil in London with one minute silence to honour Everard and other women who have lost their lives to violence. However, with the outpour on social media from thousands of women who shared their experiences of how they felt unsafe when alone and their own stories of sexual harassment and violence, several other events were organised across the city and in other parts of the UK.
What is 'Misogyny'
Misogyny is a term which you may have come across when reading reports or articles about violence against women. It is the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women** and girls. This usually comes in the form of negative behavioural prejudice and physical actions such as abuse, harassment and assault.
How can I become more informed?
There is an overwhelming collection of research documenting the women's safety movement, female empowerment and other societal issues women face in this modern world. Below are some book and website recommendations to give you a wider insight into these prevalent issues.
The Unfinished Revolution: Voices From the Global Fight for Women's Rights (2012), edited by Minky Worden
This book examines how far women have come in changing history, but also how far there still is to go in securing equal rights and opportunities for women around the world. This book includes 30 contributions from women who have campaigned for equal rights, ranging from humanitarian workers to scholars.
A Room of One's Own (1929), by Virginia Woolf
Famous novelist Virginia Woolf, was not afraid to criticise feminists. A Room of One's Own explores why women have traditionally been reluctant to write fiction, as well as the repercussions of not having financial resources or freedom. Woolf also discusses the social dynamics that have kept women marginalized throughout history.
Men Explain Things to Me (2014), by Rebecca Solnit
Men Explain Things to Me is a concept that many women are unaware of but can identify with: "mansplaining". A term used to describe a situation of men explaining something to women in circumstances where it isn't welcomed or necessary. Solnit's book discusses a variety of women's lived experiences from their perspectives and even analyses Virginia Woolf's prose (previously mentioned).
The Second Sex (1949), by Simone De Beauvoir
Between 1946 and 1949, French existentialist Beauvoir researched and published this novel. It addresses the boundaries of female freedom and explores feminism's pioneering work through the portrayal of women throughout history.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), by Mary Wollstonecraft
This book is recognised as a foundational text on modern feminism. Wollstonecraft argued that women are entitled to a public education so that they can go on to support themselves and contribute to society. Wollstonecraft also proposed that women should be granted equal opportunities in education, employment, and politics as men were.
Pride and Prejudice (1813), by Jane Austen
This romantic novel's presence can still be felt today. The reader follows Austen's protagonists as they struggle with questions of upbringing, morals and marriage following the political and societal views of eighteenth-century British aristocracy culture.
Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys
Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea as a feminist and anti-colonial response to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847). The novel told from the perspective of the male protagonist's insane wife, Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who goes mad upon being trapped in a loveless marriage and raised in an hostile environment.
UN Women - a global organisation addressing gender equality within society.
Women's Aid - a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.
Imkaan - a UK-based organisation addressing violence against female ethnic minorities.
Apps designed for safety/with safety enablers
iPhone Maps - If you have an iPhone, you can share your location with a family member, friend or additional contacts on both Apple Maps and Google Maps. To do this, you will need to enable your location services which can be found in your iPhone Settings.
WhatsApp - If you have WhatsApp, you can share your location by enabling your location permissions on your phone's settings. Then go back into WhatsApp, open the contact you would like to share your location with and 'Tap Attach' or press the + symbol on an iPhone > Location > Share live location.
Walk Safe - an app dedicated to women's safety. The map uses verified police data to visualise serious crime reports which appear as icons in each street/area.
Hollie Guard - a smartphone app that provides enhanced levels of protection as it allows you to set your start and end destinations before setting off. It will notify your emergency contacts once you arrive safely at your destination.***
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