Over the past few weeks and months, conversations about women’s safety have been all over social media and in the news following the murders of two women, Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa. Seven months after
the murder of Everard, Nessa was found dead in a London park. Police believe Nessa was killed on her way to meet a friend, and have since arrested a man on suspicion of “predatory” murder.
The parallels between the two murders have led to
comparisons between the treatment of their cases by police and media. And, as in the days following the disappearance of Everard, after Nessa’s death people took to social media to share their own experiences of harassment and gender-based violence. A vigil was held for Nessa in Kidbrooke and a book of condolences opened for people to pay their respects.
Then, following the sentencing of Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, details about how he used
his position as a police officer to falsely arrest and then kidnap Everard were made public. This led the Met Police to issue advice to women on protecting themselves from false arrests, which included challenging lone officers, ringing 999, “shout[ing] out to a passerby, run[ning’ into a house or wav[ing] a bus down for help.”
Independent notes, many were dismayed by the nature of the advice as not only does it place the emphasis on women to do more to protect themselves, it could also lead to their further endangerment. It has also been pointed out that women of colour, and Black women especially, could be put at even more risk by the advice, due to the police’s record of subjecting Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority groups to disproportionate use of force. Not to mention, there is anger and hurt over the fact that many white women seem only now to be waking up to the idea that the police is an institution with the power to harm, despite the events of last summer. All in all, the events have been triggering and deeply concerning for many, without even mentioning that Everard and Nessa’s deaths are just two examples of the hundreds of women killed every year.
One of the most important takeaways from these conversations, however, has been that the emphasis should not be placed on what women can do.
Women should not have to change their behaviour to ensure their safety (though we invariably do). Instead, it is cis men who should be questioning their actions and starting conversations with one another about what they can do to help.
This is a message we can all get behind, and one we will continue to advocate for fiercely. Sadly, however, as recent findings from the UN has shown, almost all women in the UK (97%)
have experienced sexual harassment of some kind. And for trans women and women from other marginalised backgrounds, the statistics are even more devastating. This problem is deeply entrenched in our society and, right now, we don’t have a roadmap that will solve it fast enough.
With this in mind, what follows is a list of tips and resources that offer advice on personal safety, and the rights of yourself and others when it comes to arrests. While we are all dreaming of a future where these tools are no longer necessary, hopefully they can offer support until we reach that goal.
Apps & Technology That Can Help
There are a few apps and appliances available that may help you in dangerous situations. These include
Hollie Guard, which activates with a shake or tap and immediately notifies your emergency contacts, giving them your location and also sends audio and video directly to your phone.
Parachute, which you tap to activate. The app will then stream a live feed of video and audio to your emergency contacts and provide a location to your emergency contacts. It will save this data directly to the cloud rather than on your phone. That way, if your phone is stolen, lost, or damaged, the evidence can be accessed.
Strut Safe, which has a hotline you can call or text when walking home. Founded in the wake of Everard’s murder and based in Edinburgh, the free non-judgemental service is “dedicated to getting women, queer people, people of colour, and anyone who needs us, home safely.”
If you live in Edinburgh,
you can phone and request a pair of volunteers to walk home with you. For those outside the Scottish city, you can stay on the phone with a volunteer as you’re walking who will check in on you when you’re home.
– iPhone users can set up an
Emergency SOS feature through their settings. Once activated, you can make an emergency call by rapidly pressing either the volume or lock buttons five times.
WhatsApp also allows users to share their live location with a group or an individual, which updates a map as you move, per Business Insider. Organisations For Personal Safety Workshops & Resources The Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Established in 1986 following the disappearance of their 25-year-old daughter, the
Suzy Lamplugh Trust was founded by her parents Paul and Diana to “offer personal safety training and advice to others, to help people be and feel safe.”
As the Trust tells Bustle, they “work with victims to lobby for systemic change in policy and legislation to reduce violence and aggression in society and ensure victims are better supported in seeking justice.”
This includes advice for victims through the
National Stalking Helpline (0808 802 0300), as well as perpetrator intervention programmes. Freedom Personal Safety
Founded by personal safety experts,
Freedom Personal Safety provides support and advice to the NHS and other organisations to “give women the skills, knowledge and confidence to keep themselves safe.” This includes courses, events, and workshops, as well as links to other charities and groups. The Mix
As the UK’s leading support service for those under 25,
The Mix has a variety of tools and services to help with potentially harmful situations, including personal safety. They also have a tool that provides information about services in your local area through a database consisting of over 16,000 organisations. Sisters Uncut
Direct feminist action group Sisters Uncut, who
led the vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common, are leading workshops and training sessions on how to intervene in stop and searches, other police violence tactics, and knowledge of your basic rights and how to support those targeted by the police.
You can sign up for Sisters Uncut’s police intervention training
here. Solace Solace is an organisation dedicated to tackling all forms of male violence against women and girls. The organisation has an extensive resource library as well as advice, support, training, and therapy services.
As Solace says, “We need a zero-tolerance to violence against women and it will take all of us to commit to a lasting change and invest in the resources for education to change attitudes and a criminal justice system that protects women.”
Five Rings Training x Personal Safety London Take Part In The UN Women UK’s Safe Spaces Now Initiative
UN Women UK has been conducting research to establish how pervasive the issue violence and harassment is for women and show the government that systems they currently have in place are not working. They have also written an open letter that demands change by establishing safe places and workshops through their Safe Spaces Now initiative.
You can take part in their research
here, sign their open letter here, and donate to the Safe Spaces Now initiative here. Contributions from Sophie McEvoy. Contributions from Sophie McEvoy.
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This article was originally published on
March 12, 2021