Reading Women Explain Why They Don’t Feel Safe After Sarah Everard
At least 106 women are believed to have been killed by a man in the UK so far in 2021.
Femicide reports that on average a woman has been killed by a man every three days for the past 13 years in the UK.
Following the death of Sabina Nessa and the murder of Sarah Everard in March this year, many women have come forward to share their experiences of gender-based violence.
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Women in Reading and other parts of Berkshire are no exception to the fear this creates, with one woman saying she feels “it is very dangerous to come home”.
Reading University FemSoc President Poppy Lindsey said Sabina Nessa’s death had disappointed her but unfortunately not surprised her.
“There has to come a time when we end with women living in fear and come together to bring about change,” she said.
“We cannot bring future generations into a world where at least 97% of women are survivors of sexual harassment.
“We cannot continue to teach our daughters to go home with keys in their fingers, pretending to be on the phone. What we need to do is provide more education for our sons.
“Sabina Nessa was doing what we all did once, coming home alone, and absolutely tragically, the scenario we all feared once happened to Sabina.
“I wish I could say the community of Reading is a safe place for women, but I can’t.
“Women can’t go home alone in the dark. Often times, they can’t even walk along a main road without being beeped or whistled.
“If our community is socially safe for men, we must work to make it socially safe for women. “
Nellie Williams, of Wokingham, has expressed fears as the mother of three young women aged 17, 20 and 23.
She said: “I worry when my daughters go out. Someone once told me, I can’t believe you stand and wait for them to come home or drive to pick them up and I said I would much prefer them to be safe with me than on the street.
“When we tell women that they should walk on well-lit roads, we are treating the symptom, not the cause.
“Why shouldn’t women go out with what they want to wear? If you think it’s provocative, you’ve got the problem. Why aren’t men educated on how to treat women? “
Nellie went on to explain that she believes we as a society need to hold people accountable for violent behavior towards women.
“I thought my friend’s new boyfriend was horrible but I didn’t think much about it until I got some training on domestic violence,” she explained.
Nellie said that only then did she realize the nature of the behavior she had seen and that we all needed to ‘know the signs’ and ‘where to go’ when looking for aid.
A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, explained why she did not feel safe.
“I don’t feel at all safe because I was raped when I was 18 just before my second year of college,” she said.
“A male conference warned me that I would be reported to the dean because I was a few lessons late due to police investigations.
“I have the impression that such behavior discourages young women from speaking out because our experiences are always brushed aside.”
Another woman, from Reading, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I was 15 when a 40-year-old man pulled up to his car and after giving me a few physical compliments, asked to come up and it wasn’t the first or last time something like this happened.
“As I got older, things got worse. The majority of situations where abuse occurs doesn’t happen on the streets at night. It’s in classrooms, in the supermarket, in the city center, it’s under our eyes everyday in many different situations and that puts me in danger. “
Another woman living in Reading said when she was walking around London Road a man recently asked her if she wanted to get money from him.
Concerned about what he meant, she called her boyfriend and walked back to college.
Other women said they don’t like leaving the house when it is dark, with one saying the last time she will go for a walk “is at sunset”, but that ‘she will call her boyfriend if she is scared.
In the same vein, another woman said: “I am from the north and maybe it is because I am new to the area, but I feel like it is very dangerous to come home to. Reading. “
Many women have suggested that the situation will only change if there is more education about consent and power.
One woman said that although this culture of violence exists, she will not be going out alone at night for the rest of her life, in order to stay safe, although she shouldn’t have to.
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