As I went for a walk this evening, on my own, in the dark and with no fear for my safety I thought about Sarah Everard and all the tweets I’ve read since she disappeared from women expressing their experiences of not feeling safe when out on their own.
I thought back to the time Sara Payne was abducted in broad daylight and murdered. Back then, in the year 2000, the dominant narrative was of a lone male perpetrator who had done something so unthinkable that whilst every parent in country must have been scared for the safety of their child, there is no suggestion of a systemic social issue going on.
Twenty years later, the message from the police is for women to not go out alone at night, not for men to not attack women. All across Twitter, the response from women is an expression of fears and experiences of being out alone at night. This shows us what an endemic and systemic issue this is in a way that what happened to Sarah Payne never did.
Violence towards women and girls was just as much of a social issue twenty years ago as it is today, but today it is recognised as such, and talked about as such.
It’s terrible that society only changes through trauma and tragedy. And that change is so slow. Maybe the change isn’t even enough to be considered progress, but I hope more change towards a fairer society comes soon.