As we absorb the traumatic and horrifying circumstances of Sarah Everard’s death and reflect on the stolen lives of the thirty other women murdered by men this year, including at least three women since Sarah’s death – Geetika Goyal, Imogen Bohajczuk, and Wenjing Xu – our hearts go out to all victims and families whose lives have been changed forever by perpetrators of violence.
For a long time, the Drive partners – SafeLives, Respect and Social Finance – have been working to change the public conversation on domestic abuse – just one form of violence which is disproportionately committed against women by men – to put more responsibility where it lies, with the perpetrator.
More than six women are killed by their male intimate partners each month1 and the average number of women killed by any man (including non-intimate partners) each month is almost twelve.2 These are devastating figures. Every woman on @CountDeadWomen’s list deserves the level of attention the awful case of Sarah Everard has had.
The past fortnight has revealed the complexities of the challenge ahead. Violence against women and girls needs to be tackled at its root, in public attitudes, the impact of which are felt by women and girls from an early age and throughout their lives. These attitudes can be shifted through communications campaigns, education and leadership but only if we listen to survivors and if men stand ready to be part of the solution. Many men want to help and we need more to get involved.
At the same time, institutions need to be aware of how negative gender stereotypes and ingrained attitudes around what a ‘real victim’ looks like, or which victims ‘matter’ might manifest themselves in policy and practice. They and we must be ready to tackle those biases. And, as demonstrated so painfully over the last week, institutions must be vigilant for perpetrators in their midst.
We re-commit ourselves to working both on social attitudes, and with institutions, to end violence against women and gender-based violence.
We re-commit to putting survivors from all communities at the heart of our thinking – recognising that they may also be facing racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and class-based discrimination and that addressing inequality is a necessary part of achieving the progress we want to see.
We urge government to show the leadership that so many women – whether on Clapham Common this weekend, or social media, or simply in conversations at home – are looking for.
Now is the time for leadership that takes a strategic approach to perpetrators; shows no tolerance for violence; and builds a society in which women and girls can participate and express themselves equally and live their lives free from fear.
David Hutchison CEO, Social Finance
Suzanne Jacob, CEO, SafeLives
Jo Todd, CEO, Respect
2 Femicide Census: https://kareningalasmith.com/the-femicide-census/