In My View: Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall

Last week, Sarah Everard’s killer was given a full life sentence.

During the trial, we heard the harrowing impact statements from Sarah’s family; outlining the horrific effect that losing a daughter and a sister has had on their lives.

None of us can imagine the pain and suffering the murder of Sarah has put them through, and the fear that Sarah would have felt during the last moments of her life.

Reading the words of Sarah’s family shows us the horrific impact of violence against women and girls in society.

The tragic death of Sarah Everard must not be seen as an isolated incident or a one off but as a case of the extreme violence against women and girls that still goes on in our society.

Just last month we heard of the heart-breaking case of Sabina Nessa, who was found dead after walking through Cator Park. A man has appeared in court charged with the murder.

As details of Sarah’s case emerged, it has become clear that, tragically, there were missed signs and alarming incidents that indicated the psyche of Sarah’s murderer.

These incidents were not followed up on, nor were serious questions raised during the murderer’s vetting process. That speaks to a wider cultural failure to treat misogyny as seriously as it deserves.

Violence against women and girls often comes with previous warning signs of misogynistic incidents.

Unfortunately, the reluctance of police forces to record misogyny as a hate crime and treat incidents with the severity they deserve means telltale signs often go unreported.

This ramp up of misogyny is even leading to terrorist incidents.

Across the globe, men linked to the Incel movement, a group with misogyny as a core tenant, have been committing acts of mass murder in what increasingly appears to be a form of misogynistic terrorism.

When misogyny provides such a clear threat to ourselves and our national security, we cannot continue with a patchwork and inconsistent approach to violence against women and girls.

As a recent report by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, suggested police forces must take the lead in prioritising prevention of violence against women and girls and treat it as seriously as they treat other forms of crime.

We must also move away from the idea that it is a woman’s responsibility to keep herself safe from men.

I share the disappointment by many at the statements from the Met last week.

Asking women to flag down busses and check whether someone is a bone fide police officer not only would have done nothing to save Sarah but shifts the onus from the gross institutional errors that allowed this murder to occur.

There needs to be an urgent review of police powers to clampdown on police corruption, disciplinary procedures and the abuse of power.

We must be able to walk the streets safe at night, and the police must take its responsibility to keep our streets safe for everyone.

We must listen and believe women when they have the courage to come forward about violence and abuse they have suffered and we must teach the next generation of young men about consent.

 


 

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