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'Hold men accountable': Women flood social media with stories after Sarah Everard's disappearance

Women spoke up about how exhausting it is to live with the fear of being murdered by men looming over them.

Image source: Met Police/ Tweets: @holly, @oloni, @Helixel, @Beebabs, @missnemmanuel
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Trigger warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence that some readers may find distressing 

Sarah Everard was last seen as she walked home from a friend’s flat in south London on Wednesday, March 3. The 33-year-old has been missing since, and police have announced that they have found human remains that they believe to be of Everard's. A Metropolitan Police officer in his forties has been arrested on suspicion of murder, kidnapping, and indecent exposure in connection with Everard’s disappearance in Kent, close to where the woman's remains were found, according to Forbes. In the wake of Sarah Everard's disappearance, women are speaking up about feeling unsafe every waking hour and detailing the many precautions they have to take on a daily basis to just not be assaulted, stalked, raped, or murdered. A YouGov poll revealed that 97 percent of women aged between 18 and 24 have been the victim of sexual harassment, reported The Guardian.

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Sarah Everard/Met Police handout

 

In a society that's quick to shift blame onto women for every instance of assault, women are raising their voices to remind everyone that there are never any expectations on men to not rape, assault, or murder women. While women are constantly told to take precautions and listed the many ways in which they can avoid death and rape, men are never instructed on how to just be basic human beings. In the wake of Everard's disappearance, police told women in Clapham to not go out alone but faced a severe backlash for once again shifting the responsibility of attacks on women away from men. 

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“Sarah Everard did everything right. Everything women are ‘supposed' to. Bright clothing. Main road. Called her man,” tweeted @thelaurabird, highlighting that no precaution women take ever deter men from attacking them. By placing the onus on women to not be attacked by men, society made women internalize blame for all the times they were sexually harassed, assaulted, or attacked. “I remember a man following me as I was walking home asking for my number once and I was like ‘oh great now I have to detour so he doesn’t know where I live’,” posted journalist and writer Mollie Goodfellow.

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Every time there's a discussion on placing the onus on men to not attack women, men start trending #NotAllMen on Twitter. When a woman walks home alone at night and is being stalked by a man, she cannot afford to take a gamble by guessing if the man following her is a "decent human being" who won't attack her. It literally is a matter of life and death in many cases. Men are only seeking to absolve themselves of blame, guilt, and personal responsibility when they try to establish that "not all men" are bad. The voices of women eventually powered through with the hashtag #TooManyWomen drowning out the "NotAllMen" trend, as more women opened up about their personal stories. Women called on men to call out problematic behavior from their friends, with regards to women. 

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Anna Yearley, the joint executive director of the legal action NGO Reprieve, tweeted, “For all those women who text their mates to let them know they got home safe, who wear flat shoes at night so they can run if they need, who have keys in their hands ready to use, it’s not your fault. It never is. So many of us have stories of being assaulted. It’s never our fault.” Women also revealed the measures they take to keep themselves including holding keys between fingers, carrying a rape alarm, a heavy torch, and constantly updating their location with their friends and loved ones.

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Men, who've never had to live in the constant fear of getting murdered, will never understand how exhausting it can be, said Ash Sarkar, a media personality and political commentator. "The first thing we learn as children is that the world is conditioned by male violence, and we must labor hard if we want to live in it, said Sarkar before adding, "I wonder how many times Sarah herself had said the parting mantra familiar to women everywhere: “Let me know when you're back safe.” It's our way of saying: “I love you, and I know the world we live in.” It's time to stop focusing on what women should do to prevent being attacked and hold men accountable.

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If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, and you live in America, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)

For those in the UK, you can contact 01708 765200 or mail info@supportline.org.uk, if you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is.
 

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