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A London Man Asked How to Help Women Feel Safer, and Twitter Lit Up With Suggestions

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The United Nations’ Global Goal 5 calls for gender equality and an end to violence against women and girls. Protecting women from violence requires systemic change and the participation of men, not just women, for this goal is to be achieved. To find out more and take action against gender inequality, join us here.


Just days after International Women’s Day, women in the UK have been faced with a horrible reminder that they still face serious risks to their safety while going about daily life. 

There has been an outpouring of dismay after the police opened a murder inquiry on March 10 following the disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who was last seen on March 3, walking home from a friend's house at 9 p.m. in Clapham, south London.

Full details of the case have yet to be confirmed, but the news has sent shockwaves throughout the country. 

As they tried to piece together what happened, the Metropolitan Police (London's police force) warned women in the Clapham area not to walk alone.

The call prompted outrage that, as usual, women are being called upon to make changes to their behaviour for personal safety, while men face no restrictions or calls to modify their behaviour. 

In 2020, psychologists at the University of California San Diego conducted five separate studies that concluded that sexual assault prevention advice that tells women how to behave and dress leads to an increase in victim-blaming — and shifts perceived responsibility away from male perpetrators of assault.

Related Stories March 10, 2021 Almost All Young British Women Have Been Sexually Harassed: Report

Instead, many women on social media have offered plenty of suggestions for how men can help women feel safer as they go about their lives and how they can take a more active role in shutting down street harrassment. 

Many women have also pointed out that they have experienced attacks and street harrassment despite taking all the suggested precautions to be safe.

Joining in, a man called Stuart Edwards, who says he lives in the area Everard went missing, posted a Tweet to ask what men could do. It was the start of a long conversation and his post was retweeted almost 3,000 times. 


Lots of people suggested that a really simple thing men can do is never walk closely behind women, and cross the road if needs be, so that she doesn't get the impression she is being followed. 

Other suggestions included how to behave when out running. Many women said it was important not to closely overtake female joggers who might be startled, but instead give hanging back, giving lots of space, or give warning you are overtaking. 

Others suggested that it was helpful if men could take more of a role as "active bystanders" and be conscious of, and if possible interrupt, when a woman is being harrassed in public.  

You can read the whole thread — which is full of useful suggestions — here.

On Thursday, March 11, over 200 women who work in politics, including MPs, local councillors, and parliamentary staff, signed an open letter published in the i newspaper, calling for more action from politicians to protect women from violence. "We must see a firm commitment from our politicians, from our police force, and from our male peers," the letter stated. 

A socially-distanced vigil for Sarah Everard, and "for all women threatened on our streets" has been organised by a campaign group called Reclaim These Streets and will take place at 6 p.m., Saturday March 13 on Clapham Common in London.