Not since the start of the MeToo movement going viral in 2017 has a moment hit the public conscious quite so hard as Sarah Everard’s murder. With so many people reacting with shock and speaking out on violence against women.
With this thought playing in the back of my mind, I went into Leeds town centre the day after they found Sarah in woodland only to see a man assaulting a woman in a busy part of town.
It was midday, the street was packed, yet all I saw was everyone walking around the scene.
Why was this woman’s safety not paramount?
Perhaps because she was homeless?
I recognised her from my days inside prison. I also knew I had to do something. I began shouting her name as I broke out of the line of people walking around the man acting aggressively. Luckily this unnerved him enough to leave.
Am I surprised no one helped?
Even after reading tweets moments before such as #EnoughisEnough and #NotAllMen and reclaim these streets, no, I am not surprised at all - as mainly we only protect our own.
When I say it’s all well and good talking about it, that’s what I mean. It has to be more than clickbait. We need to reframe the debate and connect the conversations. Yes, we need women’s stories to be heard. Women should be safe in society, in government facilities, at home, at work, in the street, and on nights out.
But so far, The Met police in London, the location of Sarah's murder, has simply responded by saying they will put more police on the streets so to offer reassurance.
Is this not the problem?
Women’s safety is deeply rooted in a government that keeps pushing policies for more police, stricter sentencing and directing the public spending on control rather than change?
In January, the Guardian article reported that The Ministry of Justice has said they will be building 500 new prison places for women and has planned extra recruitment of 20,000 police officers. Where was the protest over women’s safety then? When we look deeper at the power and privilege of men in society, why do we not look at the bigger picture?
When is it easier to lock women up than fund agencies to support them?
Why were many male Rangers fans not treated as violently by the police as a protest about women in Clapham with a majority crowd of female protesters?
Why is the law steeped in situational bias?
When you link this, the only conclusion is that the government’s grassroots only maintain power to create more violence toward women, not less, that these laws are only there to continue to control the progression of women’s rights and transgender rights.
Or is it that the conversation only becomes a movement if the issue is cis-gendered?
How did George Floyd become the chant of the black lives matter protest and yet, Tony McDade, a trans-black man shot and killed by police, not even a footnote when they happened a mere few days apart?
Or that in the same year as Eurydice Dixon’s murder in Melbourne - in the U.S.A alone, 28 transgender women were murdered. No movements began for them like the ‘No to violence against women’ that spread across Melbourne at that time. The trans women were in the media but being dead named and most certainly not acknowledged with the same respect.
On Twitter, Chantelle Lewis and Sisters uncut are sharing #194andcounting a record of women murdered by the police and the prison system in England and Wales which includes the death of Trans women in men’s prison since March 2007. A system where both women and Transgender women have faced attack inside by men!
These conversations are not being heard - and they need to be heard.
If violence against women is to be addressed, we have to look at everything, including Transgender lives. In 2018 the organisation 'The End Violence Against Women Coalition', commissioned YouGov to research public perception on sexual violence against women and girls. There was a generation gap in the statistics on opinions on sexual violence. But overall, a third, that’s 33% of people in Britain, think it is not usually 'raping' if a woman is pressured into sex when there is no physical violence.
A third of men also believe a woman can not change her mind after sex has started. Where are the studies on LGBTQ+ issues? There is no context to talk about it, yet it has never needed to be discussed more than now.
Even if a percentage identifies or doesn’t as a woman, they will still face men’s views and the label of ‘female’ as a weapon that is often used as an excuse for their behaviour.
Speaking from my own experience, I was taught to fear my body as a victim before I could understand I hated it for being the wrong body for me. I also find even now, as I continue to transition, that body is still challenged depending on which way I pass. When Patsy Stevenson spoke for Counterfire on Saturday night after her arrest at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham, she spoke about being at the protest to support every woman, whether Cis or Trans.
I felt a wave of hope that the conversation might be getting bigger. Yet, no one in the media highlighted this statement and continued the ‘supporting women’ narrative as its primary focus point - and so the debate continues.
Authored by Dalton Harrison - Twitter @DaltonHarrison9
Editors note: Dalton is a trans man who is a 'trans rights' in prison advocate, public speaker, writer & poet. He is also a keen scientist and overall social explorer performance junkie! Also onTwitter as @StandFastProdu1