Hidden in Plan Sight: She Was Just Walking
Again it has happened… a woman goes for a walk and can’t…in this case the sorrowful case of Sabina Nessa.
I don’t want to jump on a bandwagon — but I can’t quite believe the advice being offered to women at this time and partly how the case is being reported, again.
A woman goes for a 5 minute (yes 5 minute!) walk at 8.30pm in her local area to meet a friend, which takes her through a local park. She never finishes her journey. Now women are being advised to hide their jewellery and stealables; to only use brightly lit, busy paths and on and on and on. While this advise is well-meaning, I’m not sure I like the tone — once again women walking are a problem. But if you stay at home, you could be a problem too. And it isn’t a walking women that’s the problem, it’s the fact that our streets and parks and green spaces aren’t safe for women, and a lot of people, where there is evil intent.
Sarah Everard proved that it doesn’t matter if you use the brightly lit, busy street; avoid the park; wear trainers; make a phone call; carry your keys brandished; hide your jewellery; whilst it’s always good to be sensible, it doesn’t matter where you are if the intent is evil. So many women aren’t even safe behind locked doors and windows in their own homes!
And in all of this; Sabina Nessa was just a women walking… a much loved daughter, teacher, sister, friend. Truly we need safe streets, safe walking areas and all these rules don’t stop evil intent; it’s time to fight and challenge the evil intent and make streets safer for everyone.
I’m longing for the world to change, for times when a woman can go for a simple thing (like a walk) (again) to meet a friend, go home, go about her business without evil intent befalling her or being blamed for the evil intent that befell her through being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time,’ possibly even in the ‘wrong’ clothes or in the ‘wrong’ state of mind…I’m longing for a time when I don’t feel the need to speed up because a pedestrian behind me seems to be tailgating me — they weren’t, just completely space unaware as they tried to cross the street. But this behaviour is unnatural — why does it seem so natural in me? I’m longing for the world to change so that I don’t have to feel threats before they prove themselves to be so….and for more guys who do the right thing because they care about their sisters — give space; don’t force us either walk against a wall or hedge or jump off the pavement to get decent passing by space; who don’t skim past our side on their scooters or bikes and give a friendly warning as they approach on their wheels; who cross the street because they see a solo walking woman; don’t look or shout or hoot or feel the need to comment on the size of our chest or any female body parts(!) (to our face or shouted out of a van or car or by a group of guys); who don’t walk too close behind us or match our pace if we speed up; who genuinely respect and honour women as sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, grandmothers and who value women not for what they can do, or their sexual status or feel them to be some weird, dangerous hybrid, but because women hold up half the sky, alongside men; equally created and equal image bearers, wonderfully and fearfully made just as they are, and because men want women and streets to feel and be safe.
Longing for the world to change, because she was just a woman walking, going about her business….and my heart is breaking, because it was just a quick five minute walk…and again I feel like we’re being told to follow all these rules, barricade ourselves indoors…just to stay safe and go about our business. Longing for Safe Streets for everyone, and soon…..
Praying for the world to change soon… https://youtu.be/XyF2lHZt8Mo
I don’t have words to imagine what Sarah Everard’s family are going through right now. Such an abuse of power, authority and law in the probable use of a police officer ID card to lure a woman into a car for horror and evil intent. Again rules are being piled up about what a woman should do if this situation happens. And yet, the pile of rules doesn’t solve the issue — evil intent. Some useful things going round on the Internet about how men can support women on the streets, and yet I’m not sure that intervention is everything — I’d like to see more men prepared to call out and challenge other men for cat calls, inappropriate behaviour, making women feel unsafe. Same with the police — whilst the many rules are helpful, I’d really like the police to review how their plains clothes officers behave and how to make the streets safer, rather than giving women even more rules to think about.
I am thankful for the police officers who do their job, take a lot of flack for my civilian sake and do the right thing, who don’t abuse their power or the trust of lone women, regardless of who or where they are or what state they’re in when they encounter women, or indeed anyone. We need more like you! Please start to reform from within as well as creating safer streets, for everyone…
And as a woman, I’d really like less rules to follow as I go about my business cos it’s getting tiring! I can’t carry the weight to trying to manage and work around men with evil intents any more — things need to change and women taken more seriously in this issue, really heard and listened to.