‘We Are Still Being Killed By Misogyny’

On the six-month anniversary of Sarah Everard’s tragic death – and as the Plymouth shooting marks another devastating act of male violence – Grazia’s new research finds almost half of women feel less safe since March’s watershed moment.


by Anna Silverman |
Updated on

Six months ago, an unimaginable act of violence rocked the country when Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was kidnapped off the streets of London on 3 March and murdered by Met PC Wayne Couzens – a man she should have been able to trust. It shone a light on the very real fears women face daily and triggered a watershed moment, as calls rose to tackle the epidemic of male violence against women and girls.

As we reach a reflective point six months on, it’s sobering that, once again, we’re faced with devastating headlines about male violence in the wake of the Plymouth massacre. Earlier this month, 22-year-old Jake Davison killed five people in a mass shooting, including his mother and a three-year-old girl. An adherent of woman- hating ‘incel’ ideology, his attack was fuelled by misogyny. Once again, we find ourselves faced with another horrifying reminder that a violent hatred of women is a threat to us all.

To mark the anniversary of Sarah’s death, Grazia conducted nationwide research in partnership with GoFundMe*, after holding a discussion on the issue of women’s safety as part of our I Walk With Women initiative. Our research shockingly found 48% of women feel less safe when out alone now – despite 77% of both men and women agreeing the tragedy was a defining moment in terms of the conversation around women’s safety. Some 75% of women surveyed said they feel more aware of potential danger when out in the evenings, and have become more vigilant.

Government measures aimed at improving safety for women and girls have been announced since March and include a promise of funding for better lighting and CCTV, an online tool allowing women and girls to record where they feel unsafe, and

a new national police chief responsible for tackling violence against women and girls. But despite these promises, the need for more serious action is clear, as our research found four in five women still don’t feel safe walking home on their own after a night out. In the last six months, half have chosen to stick to walking along main roads only and 48% have felt worried about someone walking behind them. Moreover, 38% put their phone away so they’re not distracted, a third (34%) always walk home with a friend and 15% have learned self-defence.

It’s not surprising many women still feel unsafe – we haven’t seen the systemic change that we need to actually shift our daily reality.

What’s more, in the same six months, 23% of women also said they’d received unwanted dick pics, which underlines the urgency of Grazia’s campaign to make cyberflashing – the sending of unsolicited explicit images – illegal.

Sophie Walker, Grazia columnist and founding leader of the Women’s Equality Party, says the Government’s response to the national conversation around women’s safety was far from strategic. ‘An app and another police appointment and another conversation about street lighting... When short-term tactics are swapped for the hard, dedicated work of unpicking the structural sexism of our institutions, then and only then will we start to make progress,’ she says.

Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates agrees. ‘It’s not surprising many women still feel unsafe – we haven’t seen the systemic change that we need to actually shift our daily reality,’ she says. ‘The conversation is a vital starting point, but what we need now is action from people in authority; people with the power to create real change, and that involves education, a criminal justice system that doesn’t fail women and girls at every turn, and a media that doesn’t sensationalise or dismiss violence against women.’

Our research saw some signs that the conversation has brought about change: in the last six months, 21% of women said male friends had told them they’re making more effort to make women feel safe on the streets and 17% said a male stranger had crossed to the other side of the street to give them some distance. But as Labour MP Jess Phillips points out, the shock and devastation of six months ago was not a one-off – as the Plymouth massacre has proved so grimly. ‘We must demand that women’s lives, and specifically our security, must become a political priority, not just a few pilot projects released here and there when bad things happen,’ she adds.

She believes what we need now is an ‘end- to-end violence against women and girls bill’, which would, crucially, be well resourced so that it can be properly policed and justice can be swift, with practical, emotional and legal support available to women in every part of the country. ‘Currently, this is so far from being the case,’ says Jess, ‘[so] it is no surprise to me that we are still being killed by misog yny.’

This research has been carried out in partnership with GoFundMe, who have created a centralised hub for those wanting to take action and help charities working to end male violence; visit gofundme.com/iwalkwithwomen.

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