What You Risk

Women’s’ Safety in the Modern World

What You Risk

Grace Slagle

In March, a London woman, Sarah Everard, was walking home and never arrived. Sarah Everard’s death triggered an international conversation about women’s safety. People were outraged and deeply affected (there was a vigil held for her in London) by the fact that a woman was kidnapped and killed just because she was walking back to the place she lived, which any person should have the right to do. Not to mention, Everard took all the necessary precautions, like contacting a friend and taking a safer path home. These tactics and more are taught to women; from a young age, they are told to be careful. Otherwise, who knows where they might end up. 

Women’s safety is not a new issue. It’s something women and girls have dealt with forever. They learn from cruelly young ages how to defend themselves, how to evade the fate that so unfairly befell Sarah. Pepper spray, holding keys between laced fingers, and checking around your car are common daily practices for most women. Some even carry knives when they go out. 

The PBS program No Safe Place: Violence Against Women, considers the historical implications of violence against women. “More than 2,000 years ago, Roman law gave a man life and death authority over his wife,” they state. Violence against women is rooted in society. Because of its systemic support, it plagues women everywhere, all the time. 

The World Health Organization estimates that about one-third of women have experienced “either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.” This and other seemingly insurmountable statistics can be forever daunting, especially regarding an issue that is rooted in thousands of years of mistreatment. 

Even more worrying is the possibility that this incredibly important movement will become a fad. Women’s lives are not a trend. They are not a hashtag, or something to pay attention to for a week, or a day. The devaluation of women throughout history has contributed to the systems against them. Everyone seems to think that women can be disrespected, walked all over, or, even more terrifying, murdered for just walking home. 

So then, the question seems to be, what can you do?

You can donate. There’s a lot of legislation currently to move towards progress, for example, March 2021 marked the renewal by the House of an act to target violence against women. Learn more here. You can educate yourself. You can educate people you know. You can protect other women, women you know, women you don’t. If you see someone in danger you can support them. You can highlight the power of women and the unlimited capabilities they have. A systemic issue like this requires extreme dismantling, and won’t be changed without hard work. I hope we’re ready for it.