6th November 2023
Trigger warnings: Please note that this content discusses sensitive subjects such as gender-based violence, murder, and rape culture.
Opinion pieces are the view of the author. They in no way reflect the views of Liverpool Guild Student Media or the Liverpool Guild of Students.
Green Party peer Baroness Jones incited mass outrage when proposing a 6pm curfew to keep men indoors. This was in an attempt to combat gender-based violence (GBV). But when no woman is safe on the streets of the UK, why is this such an unthinkable ask? London Metropolitan Police officers comfortably instructed women to stay at home at night to avoid such instances. So why is the other way round unintelligible?
The death of Londoner Sarah Everard sparked mass outrage in the UK, as it should have. But why should it take the death of an innocent white British woman for the public to rethink the measures put in place to protect females? Everard’s disappearance suggests that even white women can no longer trust the police. This is something that black and brown individuals have been accustomed to for centuries.
The mainstream media’s news coverage of the deaths of BAME sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman was abhorrent compared to Sarah’s. I am not implying that Everard’s death was acceptable. But why does an innocent white woman’s disappearance continue to garner more media attention than the murder of two innocent black women? A more diverse police force is intrinsic in order to promote a safer society for women and ethnic minorities.
The murder of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman occurred in a North London park. Tragically, it coincided with one of the sisters’ birthday celebrations. It was actually Henry and Smallman’s family that found their bodies. This suggests that the police search was not conducted thoroughly enough. Wilhemina Smallman, the UK’s first BAME female archdeacon and mother of the two sisters, had her suspicions confirmed that skin colour explained police negligence. This came after leading officers were found guilty of taking selfies with the women’s remains.
More recently we have heard of the death of Sabina Nessa. But the mainstream media have brutally ignored Sabina’s death.
There will be those who regard the above incidents as isolated events. Some will argue that the actions of a few horrific men should not dictate the movements of all men. However, I disagree and will explain why.
Yes, there are those who will argue that this is creating unnecessary tensions between men and women. But at the end of the day, this is simply a retaliation to problems that men have created in the first place. Why blame women for simply responding to largely male actions? Because men are not used to accountability.
This is definitely not an issue limited to Britain. It is a pandemic in itself. For example, high schools in the USA were found to forcefully implement female dress codes. This was in an attempt to stop animalistic teenage boys from getting ‘distracted’ in lessons. This highlights just how deeply rape culture permeates our society. Women are discouraged from reporting GBV out of fear that we will be the ones vilified for adorning short skirts and loud personalities.
I would go as far as saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if the same people ‘distressed’ at Everard’s death berated her for walking home at night alone. The disappearances of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman may not have made the same people too upset. Why should women and young girls be told to avoid certain areas at night or even at midday? I personally recall my all-girls school instructing us to avoid the local park after school ended, where paedophiles roamed free. But I never heard of anyone, female teachers included, chastising the men preying on young girls. Instead, it was us at fault if we left the school premises!
Now that Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard, I think that Baroness Jones’ words are more pertinent than ever. If a police officer is able to commit such atrocities at midday, then we should fight to keep all men off the streets even prior to the proposed 6pm curfew.