Sarah Everard: Could this finally shift the dial on women’s safety? – BBC Newsnight

women know abduction and murder is just the worst end of a spectrum of everyday male threat to women killed women are not vanishingly rare killed women are common as tonight sarah everard's family described the joy she brought to their lives and the serving metropolitan police officer arrested on suspicion of her murder remains in custody the events of the past week and the questions surrounding the disappearance of the 33 year old from the streets of south london are resonating far and wide sarah everard's story has struck a chord with so many thousands of women and men too on social media and beyond they're telling their stories of male aggression and assault they're voicing their fears their fury that our society doesn't protect women they're demanding change an end to the violence it's the thing they teach us to be afraid of from childhood says one it's proof that we're not afraid for no reason there's anger about inequality that my husband goes running late at night but i wouldn't dare run alone after dark anger too about victim shaming don't tell women not to walk home at night one says tell men not to rape and kill another describes being attacked in broad daylight on a bright sunny morning stop focusing on women's choices says that post and start focusing on the men that attack us women are really responding to this by recognizing how similar it is to their own experiences we all have those daily experiences of monitoring our safety of carrying our keys between our fingers and yet we know that that's actually no barrier to preventing harm from happening to us and i think women are furious that the conversation has focused on those supposed things that women can do to keep themselves safe and that we haven't moved forward benita known tracy kidd nelly mustafa zahida b josephine k as police laid flowers on behalf of the public for sarah everard in parliament the labour mp jess phillips spent four minutes reading the names of women and girls killed in the uk in the last year where a man has been charged or convicted gwyndolin band bruce williams in today's debate to mark international women's day which was on monday sarah everard's name was uttered time and again for many women this new story will bring back memories of threatening situations they found themselves in through no thoughts of their own there's real anger amongst women at the threat that they face on a daily basis for far too many women even getting home safely doesn't mean they're safe from harm nicoletta zidone mandy houghton amy leanne stringfellow if a man was killed every three days there would be investigations at every level of society but unfortunately every level of society a man still holds the power in the year up to march 2020 188 women were killed in england and wales we know female victims are more likely to know their killer around 57 were killed by someone they knew usually a partner or ex compared to 39 percent of men women are also twice as likely as men to be victims of stalking and when it comes to sexual offences last year saw the lowest number of rape convictions ever recorded with only five percent of reported rapes ending in a conviction i asked the founder of the center for women's justice where all this leaves women uh generally i think there is a uh you know a well-founded fear or that women aren't being adequately protected by the criminal justice system and that is why so many um so many women do not have confidence in it there is a need for a wholesale attitude change really at every level um with public education as well to really start tackling victim blaming and misogynistic society the next few days may bring more awful details about what happened to sarah everard from parliament these sobering words there has been much debate over what i would say at the end of the list it's her name rings out across all of our media we have all prayed that the name of sarah everett would never be on any list let's pray every day and work every day to make sure you know that he's none ends up on this list again katie russell reporting there i'm joined now by the labor pair baroness helena kennedy qc and deputy chief constable sarah glenn of hampshire police and of the national police chief's council helen if i may start with you is the law working to make women safe are the deterrents strong enough well emma you've you've probably heard me saying this before but and we've got to remember that uh that law um has been rooted in uh the experience of men i mean the rules in our society were have always been created by those who have power and so the legal system itself is is embedded in uh in the um in the values and they and the perspectives and experience of the men who made law and it's only been comparatively recently that we've had women in parliament we've had women in the senior positions in the judiciary after a long struggle we've also tried to do bits of reform here and there and some of it has worked and some of it hasn't but the continuing figures and the continuing experiences of women tell you that there's something still seriously wrong and a lot of it's about attitudes but a lot of it is about things that begin much earlier in the lives of of boys and girls and girls learn very early on that they're uh that they inhabit bodies that are vulnerable and that they have to self-protect and self-safeguard and if they don't um they will be held responsible you know why are you out late at night why where are you walking in the common why were you journeying home at a certain time of night that sort of thing is always being con in place before women do you think if i if i could just put in there do you think when we were just hearing those figures there you know five percent of reported rapes ending in conviction last year the lowest that it's been you know do you think it's also part and parcel now that women think i'm just not going to bother reporting even the lower level through to the higher level what what do you read of that because do you worry that those will put people off put women off absolutely the figures put women off they know the difficulties that they're going to have in getting a fair hearing they don't feel listened to and so they don't want to engage with that part of you know with that part of our society's sort of mechanisms they really don't and we had um i mean that we've just had in the last few days a number of reports being done um one by um the the un in relation to women un women uk and it was a hugely uh uh depressing report on the numbers of women who said that they experienced young women experiencing daily abuse daily uh feelings of threat and that they don't ever report it because they know there's no point and the same has come out of a yougov thing recently where they again spoke to women about their experiences and women are still being confronted with this daily round of attrition of horrible conduct of being abused verbally sometimes physically and not feeling that they can get redress at all well that doesn't let's well let's bring sarah into this because she is part of what the redress should be i wanted to start by asking you how the mood is in the police at the moment with the arrest of this officer thank you um first of all i'd like to say that every single officer and staff member across the whole of the uk our thoughts are very much with sarah's family and their friends and everything that they must be going through we've absolutely heard uh crested the commissioner of the met say how shocked the met is but every single officer and serving staff member in the uk is horrified by what they are hearing and and building on that and taking into account what helena just said if women aren't thinking that they will be able to redress lower level from you know verbal assault through to higher level right up to rape and you know other things that they are experiencing what can you do as a police force to to get that confidence firstly i would say we absolutely hear the concerns of women we see it we respond to it on a daily basis we want women to come forward and explain to us what they are experiencing and i have to say yes i am also shocked by the appalling conviction rate in respect of rape but the reports that we have of women coming forward reporting to policing what they are experiencing reporting the harassment reporting the stalking we are seeing increased reports and we take that as a as a badge of honor of confidence of actually reporting it to us we are trying really hard with regards to civil cases uh it's not just the criminal cases legal side that we're looking at we're looking at how we can actually use prevention orders we're looking at how we can share information with our communities to keep people safe and i absolutely concur with the opening statements this is not about victim blaming this is about looking at who is actually targeting women in our society and focusing on them helen what do you make of the police are they fit for purpose for women at the moment well listen a lot of um and we've just heard from one of the really fine uh women leaders in in the in the police forces in this country and there are 40 odd police forces remember so all of them are different um but a number of them are now laid by women and for example in nottingham there's been a really interesting piece of work being done uh looking at misogynistic hate crime and although it's it's not a crime uh they're looking at the ways in which women experience uh daily in the daily round quotidian stuff which really uh uh undermines their their whole sense of safety their home you know their sense of self and confidence and it really it starts at that low level that actually is a continuum and and what they're doing in nottingham a force that's again led by a woman is that they're really taking this seriously they're trying to document it and to see whether changes in the law might be necessary and there are lots of gaps in the law like that where we really have to address what women are experiencing it just sounds from what you're saying there that women are doing a lot of work and i'm very conscious of the fact that we we need to talk about men and i'm going to talk to a man in a moment about men and masculinity but i suppose helene i know how long you've been campaigning in this area i don't want to put more work on women's plate but do you think women can ever reclaim the streets or has it got to completely shift now where the focus is listen you know i remember in the 70s when that was the campaign that we had to reclaim the night and and there were those demonstrations to make the streets safer women well it clearly hasn't worked um this has to move to men this has to be that we we direct our attentions to the conduct over of men and and men there you know there are plenty of good decent men but they have to start calling out the bad stuff the the the commenting the the the the way in which women are denigrated and the conversations that men have the ways in which women are harassed and undermined often in the workplace but i mean even outside school gates apparently so that you really have to we really have to get our main focus to start saying uh that they have a responsibility to start dealing with this behavior in the people around them because they often don't and they let it go by and it's left to women to have to confront this and so good enough it's not good enough sarah just a word from you on on men and whether you think the men who are doing this feel that they would get in trouble when you when you've arrested men who've been reported to have i don't know verbally abused a woman or sexually harassed them give us an insight into to the reaction that they have i think uh some of the comments that have been made in your opening are really clear how how early people form views about what is healthy sexual behavior it starts really early around what people are actually looking at on the internet what they see as acceptable and actually if you look at some of the the research i recently watched a documentary called generation porn it was one of the most horrific things i've ever watched actually what we are impregnating people with who actually go onto the internet is uh in order for for sexual gratification they they pretty much look like rape scenes so we need to look at you know what is the imprinting in in society early on uh we need guys to step into this debate you know i was privy to a brilliant conversation on international women's day on the he for she where our our male colleagues were talking about their support in respect of stamping out misogyny across society and you know if anything was ever seen in policing so there are great guys i work with some brilliant men who are really in this is policing fit for purpose absolutely are we all over dealing with violence and sexual offences on a daily basis yes we are we see it we deal with it we are the ones who are really close to this and we are committed to serving our community well that's your perception of course of where you work but you know how the women feel is is perhaps different and we'll be hearing more about that sarah glenn thank you very much helena kennedy thank you to you let's speak now to andrea simon director of end violence against women and ben hurst from beyond equality which is an organization that promotes positive masculinity a welcome to you both andrea i wanted to bring us back to sarah to sarah everard here and not forget the woman at the heart of this why do you think this case has resonated so much it's resonated because we we all recognize that that fear and anxiety about walking around and going about our daily lives um but knowing in the knowledge that the violence that women face from sexual harassment to domestic abuse to to to rape to murder is ever present we all know that fear every woman knows about what might happen if they don't think about and plan and make decisions about where they go when they go um what they wear um where they sit on public transport we're routinely making those kind of adaptations in our routines to avoid certain places um and to to to choose particular routes because we're trying to avoid being victims um being target targeted for sexual harassment so that's what every woman can relate to this kind of safety plan that people put in place because of course some have said today and crested dick was stressing how rare this abduction is to make sure that the figures are out there and also what happens to men in violence but actually what it doesn't touch on is that fear and that perception that women have that you're talking about that they need to alter their behavior always in lots of different scenarios where it wouldn't even occur to men ben to bring you into this thank you very much for joining us because it is important to hear from men in this and the work that men need to be doing that perhaps they aren't i wonder if i could start by asking i know you spend a lot of your time with with 11 to 18 year olds but have you ever intervened with people of your own age who perhaps aren't talking how they should be about women yeah so at beyond equality we work with men and boys so we work from the ages of 11 all the way up to whatever age you can think of um in schools and in universities and in corporates um and then in my personal life as well yeah i've definitely had experiences of um having to pull people to the side having to have conversations which aren't necessarily comfortable conversations um about what needs to happen about what needs to change um about things that are inappropriate and i think really the core of this is that um those things can feel feel very nitpit picky um but actually what we find is that when those attitudes are challenged and that can lead to more change and i think that becomes really really crucial i was watching you've done a tedx talk on this and you talked about some of the word associations that boys can have with women and and they are you know frightening in some respects of how awful and violent and obviously degrading in sectional terms and otherwise what do you think is key to unlocking that toxic masculinity getting rid of it from a young age well you know the the idea of um masculinity is something that we learn and is given to us from a very very young age and i can remember being about eight years old and watching james bond old james bond films with my gran um and seeing these narratives like through tv film music where men are meant to pursue women and they're meant to pursue women even when women say no and that women aren't necessarily safe but they're more prizes to be won and i think those ideas have to be challenged at the very root level um and i guess i guess that when we're talking about these issues and the key here is inspiring men to play a role in moving towards an equitable future i think that the narrative has been that gender equality isn't a man's issue it's not a men's issue and you're working of course to to address that but i suppose the other thing i wanted to get your view on andrea is for people who are on social media though they may have noticed that the hashtag not all men was trending at some point higher than sarah everard's name which was around the fact that men can get you know understandably in many respects to want to say it's not all of us you know there's a lot of us who care there's a lot of us who are good guys but equally it's a very thorny issue to try and address because where does it start and what what do you say do you have a view on where women's work needs to be on this and how men play a role men absolutely play a role they're really important in this conversation and they do need to be calling out problematic behavior when they see it and holding their friends and family to account when they know that they're doing things that are not okay that's really essential and it's really it's but it has to be that we focus not on what women should and shouldn't do but what men are doing to perpetrate the violence and take the the emphasis back to how we interrupt and and how we prevent um men and and and boys from from um targeting women in this way and i think it all stems back to sort of what ben was talking about um educating younger children in schools giving them an understanding and appreciation of what healthy and respectful relationships look like because we all know that that is the best way to prevent abuse yes in the long term uh is to actually establish those those healthy attitudes yes and those boundaries as well andrew simon i'm gonna have to leave it there thank you very much for your time and to you ben hurst

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