The organisers want to make the streets “safe for all women”.
A vigil in the wake of the #ReclaimTheseStreets movement is set to take place in Manchester this weekend. The movement comes just days after the tragic disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in London, who was last seen in Clapham Common walking home from her friend’s house last Wednesday at around 9.30pm. The case currently remains unsolved, however, two people were arrested this week on suspicion of being connected to her disappearance. Remains found in Kent were also, sadly, identified as Sarah Everard’s just today (Friday 12th March).
Sarah’s disappearance has sparked a huge conversation on social media this week, with many women coming forward to say that they do not feel safe walking the streets. Men have also joined in on the conversation, asking women what they could do to help make women feel safer when walking alone.
The vigil will take place virtually today, with organisers saying of the movement: “We believe that streets should be safe for women, regardless of what you wear, where you live, or what time of day or night it is. We shouldn’t have to wear bright colours when we walk home and clutch our keys in our fists to feel safe [and] it’s wrong that the response to violence against women requires women to behave differently.
“In Clapham, police told women not to go out at night this week [but] women are not the problem.
“We’ve all been following the tragic case of Sarah Everard over the last week [so] this is a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day. This event is for and about those who identify as women and non-binary, but open to all”
Speaking of the Manchester event the organisers have said: “The tragic events of Sarah Everard’s case have cruelly reminded us that we, as women, are not safe, nor have we ever been safe. We believe that streets should be safe for all women*. It shouldn’t matter what they wear, who they are with or where you live. We shouldn’t have to clutch keys between our fingers or talk on the phone to stay safe.
“Sarah Everard was just walking home. Many have cited that ‘she was doing all of the things that we have always been taught to do’; in some sort of effort to keep ourselves safe. She was wearing bright clothing, speaking on the phone, avoiding dimly lit areas and taking the safest route.
“A shocking 97% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed, enough is enough. We must be the generation that demands the change, so younger generations can know they are safe. It doesn’t matter if women do everything “right” and take every precaution; women are still at risk of being followed, harassed, attacked and assaulted.
“It distresses us that following the tragic disappearance of Sarah Everard, Clapham police instructed women to not go out at night. We want to stand together and say that women are not the problem. Violence against us shouldn’t require us to behave differently. We deserve to make it home safely.
“This is a vigil for Sarah, and for all of the women who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day. It’s for all women who feel unsafe, all women who feel angry.
“Because of the COVID pandemic we are not able to meet on the streets but we hope that women everywhere can come together to support each other and remember those we’ve lost. We invite everyone to light a candle in remembrance together. This virtual vigil is to reaffirm womens’ human rights to safety and to grieve and remember those lost on our streets to violence.
“This is an inclusive space. All women means trans women. It also means anyone presenting or identifying as female.”