Staff Editorial: Why the situation with Sarah Everard is proof society needs to change

April 2021 Satire Issue

The Navigator Staff, Buffoons with too much independence with this newspaper

Trigger Warning: This article discusses topics such as sexual assault, physical violence from the police and/or others, and death. If any of these topics are sensitive subjects for you, please refrain from reading the article all together or have a friend who can determine if this article would upset you read the article first.

The night of March 3, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by 48-year-old Met police officer Wayne Couzens in London. The terrifying facts that Everard did everything she was supposed to in order to remain safe has women across the world saying “it could’ve been me.” 

The night of March 3, Everard embarked on her 50-minute walk home on main, busy, well-lit and seemingly safe roads rather than on smaller and dark side streets that would have gotten her home faster. For women everywhere, this is a common travel decision woman make to remain safe from assault, robbery, being killed or being sexually assaulted if public transportation or a vehicle isn’t an option. Because of COVID-19, London officials have encouraged others to not use public transportation when able to, so the spread of the virus will be smaller. 

Rules of being alone outside at night as a woman are told to girls as young as 10. If you have the option, don’t walk, but if you have to, take busy main roads with working street lights. Have pepper spray, a knife, taser or another weapon on you at all times and be prepared to use it. Don’t listen to music, you need your ears to listen and be vigilant to those around you or following you. Try to have as much clothing covering your whole body on as possible because maybe if they can’t see any skin showing rapists won’t be interested. If you can, be on the phone with a family member or friend the whole time to deter attackers from having a witness. Or you can pretend to be on the phone, so your senses aren’t distracted and you can be vigilant. Message someone who you expect to reach home or somewhere else in a certain amount of time and you’ll text them you made it when you get there. That way if you never text them about your arrival, they can call the police for a wellness check.

Despite all these rules, Everard was still attacked even though she followed every unofficial rule women shouldn’t have to follow. Everard didn’t take public transportation due to the pandemic. She walked on busy main streets with working street lights. Since the investigation is still ongoing, it’s unknown if Everard had a self-defence tool, but since she was a woman living in a city it’s extremely likely she did. Until information is released to the public, we won’t know if she used self-defense against Couzens or if he incapacitated her before Everard had a chance. It was a cold winter night, so Everard was bundled up with clothing. On security cameras, we can see Everard’s journey home and when she had a 15-minute phone call with her boyfriend.

However after that phone call, Everard never got home that night. The next day, Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend, and the police knocked on doors, viewed security cameras from homeowners and businesses and searched parks and ponds for evidence.

On March 9, Met police announced an arrest had been made in relation to the disappearance of Everard, and the next day her body was recovered in a bag found in woodlands near Ashford.

Wayne Couzens is awaiting trial in jail for the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard, but there is already concern he won’t live long enough to face justice given in the span of 48 hours he was taken to the hospital with head injuries. Along with Couzens previous public indecency allegation and not protecting him from others so Everard can have justice in court, many are upset with how the police handled a warning sign.

On March 13, there was a memorial gathering that received a violent and unnecessary response from the Met police. Pictures posted across social media showed Met police piled on top of women and holding women in choke holds for “violating COVID laws.” However, when a gathering occurred to celebrate a football, a.k.a. soccer, match the Met police calmly and slowly directed the group to leave. This has led the Met police being under harsh scrutiny for their actions at the memorial, lack of actions to Couzens’ public indecency allegation, lack of protection to keep Couzens alive and the first ever woman to lead the Met, Commissioner Cressida Dick, to step down from her position.

With the reaction from the police at the memorial and people on social media scrutinizing Sarah Everard and other victims of sexual assault and harassment, sexual assault and harassment victims across the world are furious with the publics reaction. Sarah Everard was the case that broke the camel’s back. After years of being blamed for being raped instead of blaming the rapist, victims are raising their voices and holding protests calling for change within society.

A study was done in the United Kingdom of women ages 18 to 24-years-old on if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. Only 3 percent of over a thousand women a part of the study have never been sexually assaulted or harassed. That means in the United Kingdom a woman inbetween the ages 18 to 24 only has a 3 percent chance of never have been a victim to sexual assault or harassment. It makes it so you can’t help but wonder, “How long does it take for that 3 percent over the years to become less than 1 percent?”

This is proof that it doesn’t matter what you teach women to defend themselves with or how careful they are out of fear of their own safety. If we as a society don’t start teaching boys to take “no” as an answer and to treat women as fellow human beings, it doesn’t matter what you teach the girls to do and not to do or how many laws you make, boys will still rape and get away with it. What happened to Sarah Everard should never have happened. What happened to everyone before her should never have happened, but the reality is in America every 73 seconds an American adult is being raped and every nine minutes an American child is being molested. However, only five of 1,000 rapists will be charged for their vile crimes. Change is long overdue with how society treats rapists and victims of sexual assault, and until society changes, we will still tell our stories as those who survived and for those who will never get the chance to be heard.

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