April 1, 2022
What we have to urgently address as a society is the way in which we continue to blame women for men’s violence. What is exceptional about Sarah Everard’s case is not that she was murdered but that it has led to national outrage and mourning. This contrasts very starkly with how little coverage Lorraine Cox’s murder in September received. This trial is currently in court and yet again, we see a reluctance to hold a violent man accountable and instead focus on what she did.
Not all men are abusive but the fact remains that a percentage of the male population are responsible for 98-99% of sexual violence. Every time we question where a woman was, what she was wearing, had she been drinking etc, we are reinforcing on some level that she did something to cause the abuse. This just simply isn’t true. Tragically, if Sarah or Lorraine had not been attacked, other women would have been which is why it makes no sense to fixate on what an individual woman did or did not do. This is reality that all women face – the constant threat of male violence which means that we modify our choices and our actions in such a way that our freedom is limited.
Those men that choose to abuse other people desperately need to be held to account. Abusive men do not suddenly perpetrate an isolated incident of violence. Abuse is part of a pattern of behaviour which is rooted in disrespectful and degrading attitudes towards women and girls. We must stop blaming women, full stop.
We extend our sincere condolences to and stand in solidarity with the friends and family of Sarah Everard, of Lorraine Cox, of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, and all the women killed by male violence whose names Jess Phillips MP read out in the House of Commons, of all the women and girls lives stolen by male violence whose names we may never know, including those lost to suicide.
Since Sarah disappeared, the lives of 7 other women and 1 girl have been ended by male violence. There are still unanswered questions regarding Blessing Olusgean who also disappeared whilst walking home and was later found dead on a beach. We hope that one day, organisations like ours will not be needed, but for now, we are needed more than ever and will do all that we can to support and empower women and put the blame and responsibility where it belongs – on those that abuse.
CEO, The Women’s Centre Cornwall