Sarah Everard's disappearance and death is what all women fear

Floral tributes left in Clapham Common to remember Sarah Everard

Floral tributes left in Clapham Common to remember Sarah Everard - Credit: PA

The disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard has shocked us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends going through this unbearable pain.  

Sarah’s disappearance and death is what all women fear.

The fear that one day – despite doing everything we are told to do to keep ourselves safe – we will be harmed.

In the days since Sarah’s disappearance there has been an outpouring of women, from all walks of life, sharing their fears and their experiences.

Everyday experiences. Whether on the tube, sitting in a park, walking home from work, on a bus – just living their lives yet experiencing harassment, stalking or assault. 

Sarah Everard disappeared in Clapham on March 3

Marketing executive Sarah Everard, 33 - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Many women have alluded to the informal curfew that they feel they must abide by to stay safe, with the dark bringing danger.

At the same time their male relatives and friends can – and do – live a more carefree life, able to pick and choose when they go out and what they do with little fear.

Most Read

Countless others have recounted being followed or crossing the road to get away from a man they felt was following them.

This cannot go on.

Women cannot continue feeling unsafe. Women cannot be forced to live their lives with an eye on who is around them, or in their tube carriage, or walking behind them.

Sarah’s tragic killing must mark an end to this culture. 

A placard on the statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square

A placard on the statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square - Credit: PA

Crucially, in the days since Sarah’s death, there has been a call for men to listen to their female friends and family. Many men have done so, and shared ways they can act to make women feel safer, but this isn’t enough.

We must all challenge the inequality, sexism, and misogyny which plagues our society.

In Parliament’s debate for International Women’s Day, days after Sarah’s disappearance, Harriet Harman MP summed up what many of us feel when she said: “Here we are, in the 21st century, in a country where women and men expect to be equal, but we are not.”

We must make sure we live in a country where our expectations are met. Women must have the equality to live their lives free of fear.

  • Catherine West (Lab) is MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.