Written by guest writer Charlie Greening
I think it is safe to say that none of us ever want to be a victim of crime. No one wants to be robbed or have their home broken into. Even if not much is taken, something like that can lead cause you to feel violated, vulnerable, angry and upset.
NOW IMAGINE there was a particular kind of crime, a crime that is so violating and traumatic that it left almost all victims subject to it with symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Symptoms like; nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, chronic irritability, emotional numbness and difficulty concentrating. IMAGINE a crime that was so serious it left most people who’d experienced it with depression, chronic pain or suicidal thoughts. IMAGINE that this crime adversely affected relationships, careers, livelihoods, families and communities. IMAGINE these impacts were so severe they were often long-term, sometimes even lifelong.
NOW IMAGINE that one in every five women living in England and Wales today, had experienced some form of this crime since they turned sixteen years old. Take a moment to reflect on the women in your life and how many women that would represent.
IMAGINE that one in every thirteen adults in this country, that’s 2.4million women and 709 thousand men, had been subjected to some form of this crime before they were sixteen years old, when they were children.
NOW IMAGINE that less than one fifth of the victims of this serious traumatic crime, which don’t forget may have left them with long lasting health and social impacts. Less than one fifth of those people ever reported what had happened to them to the police. Imagine that these people didn’t report this crime because they feared they would not be believed.
Even with it being a given that none of us wants to be the victim of crime, imagine being worried it may be implied that actually they did want this horrible thing to happen to them, and even really it was kind of their own fault.
IMAGINE that out of those one in five people who decide to report this crime, only 1.4% if them ever saw their perpetrator prosecuted. Not convicted, not sent to prison just legally prosecuted for what they had done.
IMAGINE that an overwhelming majority of the people perpetrating that crime were just freely walking around the streets of our country.
BUT OF COURSE WE DON’T HAVE TO IMAGINE!
Approximately 85,000 women (aged 16 – 59) experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 of the most serious sexual offences (of adults alone) every hour.
When I first wrote this, I put sadly before that fact, but it isn’t sad, it is simply outrageous. We shouldn’t be feeling sad about this, we should be feeling angry. We should be raging. Raging because there are millions of victims and survivors living in England and Wales right now and they are being failed.
Since the tragedy if Sarah Everard’s death, women across the country have taken to social media to discuss their own experiences of walking the streets of London and the lengths we go to in order to feel safe. One movement that has been extremely prevalent is RECLAIM THE NIGHT.
“Reclaim the night means reclaim the day, reclaim our safety, reclaim our bodies, reclaim our confidence, reclaim our freedom. With this very important conversation finally happening, it has caused many of us to feel uncomfortable. Mainly because of the sheer horror that this is our reality, that we have subconsciously accepted and programmed into our lives. That we mustn’t walk alone, we should never be on our phone, we should always get taxi’s home, when the taxi comes, we should be certain it’s the same reg, when he’s being overly friendly, you tell him you’re being dropped at your boyfriends.”
“Reclaim the night means reclaiming our reality. For too long we have warped our reality to fit that of misogyny and patriarchy. For too long we have dramatized our reality for the fear of our safety. For far too long we have been shunned in our own reality, whether in a social setting or a professional, we’ve all been the ‘only female’ token that sits quietly, just showing up. While we continue to break the misogynistic culture that has determined our lives, men and women for as long as we can remember, we must continue to support each other in this. To listen, to understand, to hope for better.” – BLUP50 TALENT, LIV WEST [@liv.west]
Reclaim the Night came to the UK over 40 years ago. In 1977 women in Leeds took to the streets to protest the police requesting women to stay at home after dark in response to the murders of 13 women by (recently deceased) Peter Sutcliffe.
Placards read “No curfew on women – curfew on men”. It is hard to believe we are still marching, but we will not cease until we can walk the streets at night, without the fear of rape. Women still face widespread violence from day to day harassment in the street to sexual assault, rape and murder. And yet we remain in a climate where this is still normalised as acceptable ‘banter’, where prosecutions for assaults are decreasing, and specialist services for women are under attack.
Women are speaking up, breaking the stigma that it shouldn’t be talked about. We are demanding better from men, demanding safety, equality and change. Some of you reading this may be male, and to you I say thank you for educating yourself. You might be thinking ‘hey, but this isn’t all men?’
In response to those behind the ‘Not All Men’ movement I’ll agree that not all men harm women, but I’ll ask you this. Do all men make sure that their fellow men do not harm women? Do they interrupt troubling language and behaviours? Are they having conversations with their sons about safety and consent? Are ‘all men’ interested in women’s safety?
WILL YOU START NOW?
Reclaim the night article written by BLUP50 talent Charlie Greening [@chazzabel]
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