Our thanks to Kate for this, and a tip of the hat to Professor Marian FitzGerald. Neeless to say the two female journalists solicited opinions only from women who didn’t support the good professor’s well-made points – including Julie Bindel!
A criminology professor who urged women not to become hysterical after Sarah Everard’s disappearance has been criticised for missing the point of the outrage over male violence.
Marian FitzGerald, from the University of Kent, said statistics show that men are “far more likely” than women to be murdered. They are also more likely to be killed in a public space, and by someone they did not know.
Since Everard disappeared, apparently abducted from a busy south London road, women have been sharing their own frightening experiences of trying to make it home without being attacked or accosted by strangers.
FitzGerald told Today on BBC Radio 4: “I think I’m entitled to say, as a woman, we shouldn’t pander to stereotypes and get hysterical. Let’s not get this out of proportion and let’s not wind each other up to be unduly fearful.” Referring to the murder of Milly Dowler, she said: “The reason why we remember these cases is precisely because they are so rare. We should hold on to that.”
Her comments prompted a backlash from critics, who argued that while the exact circumstances of Everard’s disappearance may be unusual, the broader fear of male violence was infuriatingly familiar and well justified.
“If it’s rare, please explain to me why two women are killed a week,” said Carole Gould, whose 17-year-old daughter Ellie was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, Thomas Griffiths, in the family kitchen in Calne, Wiltshire, in 2019.
The writer Julie Bindel took issue with the argument that “not all men” are predators. She told Times Radio: “Yes all men, all men, actually. There are huge numbers of men who are a part of this problem.”
A woman is killed by a man every three days, on average, in Britain. Gould, who has successfully campaigned for tougher sentences for teenage killers, said that the rarity of the circumstances in the south London case should not determine how seriously we take violence against women. “Whether it’s in the home or outside, it doesn’t matter. Murder is murder,” she added.
Despite assurances from Dame Cressida Dick, Britain’s most senior police officer, that “it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets”, at least five women and one girl were killed in the UK during the week Everard went missing. Campaigners said whether or not they were abducted first missed the point.
Andrew Innes, 50, has been charged with the murder of Bennylyn Burke, 25, and her two-year-old daughter Jellica, who were reported missing on March 1. Their bodies have not been found.
On March 2, Samantha Heap, 45, was found dead at a house in Congleton, Cheshire, allegedly murdered by David Mottram, 47. Two more women were murdered on March 4: Geetika Goyal, 29, who was found dying in a cul-de-sac in Leicester, and Imogen “Immy” Bohajczuk, 29, whose body was found at a property in Oldham. A man has been charged with murder in each case.
In south Wales, Chun Xu, 31, is accused of murdering a 16-year-old girl, Wenjing Lin, who died following an incident at her family’s Chinese restaurant on March 5.
“This attitude of ‘let’s not get hysterical, it’s very rare’” is part of the problem, said Ellie Welling, 19, a school friend of Ellie Gould, who has launched a campaign in her memory to make self-defence classes part of the school PE curriculum for girls and boys. She and her friends Harriet Adams and Tilda Offen started the campaign because “at the back of our minds is that feeling that if Ellie had only had some way to get away . . . there’s the possibility she could still be here”.
Welling said it was a contradiction to tell women that they shouldn’t worry because a particular type of crime is uncommon while, at the same time, women were being routinely killed by men they knew: “Why do we have to wait for it to become more and more common for action to be taken? It already happens weekly.”
Last night organisers of the Clapham Common “Reclaim These Streets” vigil, set to be held tomorrow, claimed that the Met had told them the event was unlawful. Crowdfunding for a legal case to challenge the decision hit its £30,000 target by 10.30pm last night, with donations continuing to pour in.
Tips for considerate men
Advice offered by women online on how men can avoid scaring someone when they are alone
Cross the street to avoid walking behind a woman. Give all women space. Never run close to them when jogging, especially in the dark — I’m endlessly astonished at how many men do this.
Offer to walk female friends home.
I was attacked from behind once and even though it was decades ago I still get freaked out if anyone walks too closely behind me.
Speed up and overtake her. Making noise if possible — “hi, sorry I’m just passing you” sort of comment. If I’m being followed I slow down to let people overtake. Or cross the road.
Talk to other men about it, as many are oblivious. If you witness even low-key harassment, call it out. Everyone pretends not to notice the creeps making women uncomfortable. It only emboldens them & normalises the behaviour.
One of my male friends told me that if he feels that he might be walking near a scared woman, he pretends to be, or gets himself, on the phone having a normal conversation. Silent people are more frightening than hearing someone talking.
This sounds silly but I’d say don’t get offended if someone seems scared. I was once being followed, probably innocently, down my road at night and I started running and the man behind me chased me to insist he wasn’t interested in me. It didn’t help.
If a woman is walking towards you, let her stay in her path and get out of her way rather than making her move. I walk in the safest part of the path with access to light/exits and so many times a man has forced me to walk between him and a wall.
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