I never really gave much importance to what I told my girl friends when they left my house after a dinner party. However, I came to realize that I am always worried that on their route home, even when very short, I am scared that something might happen to them. Mostly because, every day, we hear stories of assaults on women.
One Out of Six
Fear can only get worse when looking up statistics on the Internet, because sometimes, you just erase the thought from your mind by simply telling yourself that there is nothing to worry about. After all, you live in a safe town, they only have to walk ten minutes, the road is illuminated. And yet, I am not at peace with myself until I see the message ‘I am safely home’ pop up on my screen. The statistics are scary, one out of six American women has been the victim of a sexual assault in her lifetime. One out of six. That one could easily be your friend, or even you.
I always call my friends on the phone when I am walking alone at night, I just don’t feel safe by myself, but just hearing the presence of someone on the line makes me feel braver and more secure that, if something was to happen, at least someone would know. I remember asking my male friends to walk me home, even though it has always had a cost for my pride. We live in a historical period where women are fighting so hard for emancipation and asking men for help makes me feel like I am not doing my part. But then, I always think that it’s better to lose a tiny bit of my pride than risking something happening to me. So, I ask, and when I’m home I watch them from the little stairs in front of my house peacefully walking away. The truth is that, sometimes, men can’t relate to what we feel. Certainly, there have been assaults on men, but they are no way comparable to the number of assaults on women.
The Story That Sparked a Movement
Sarah Everard, a 33-years old woman, unknowingly began a movement where women started to support each other and demand a better and safer world. However, she had to pay a very high price because, on March 3, 2021 she left a friend’s house to get back home but her message of safe return never arrived. She left her friend’s house well before midnight, she was wearing bright clothes so that she could be seen in the dark and walked through a light up street, she seemingly was also on the phone with her boyfriend, and yet, she never made it home. Police Officer Wayne Couzens has been accused of her murder, showing that, even if we, as young women, try our best to protect ourselves and to be safe, we can never trust what might happen.
But it shouldn’t be about what clothes you are wearing or how bright the road is or if your phone call is real or fake, we should talk about the assaulters. Because they are the problem.
Her story had the ability to spark a movement on social media, where women began to share their stories and what measures they take in order to feel safe while they walk home. But it shouldn’t be about what clothes you are wearing or how bright the road is or if your phone call is real or fake, we should talk about the assaulters. Because they are the problem. Women shouldn’t feel the need to take precautions when walking on their own. We shouldn’t pretend to be on calls and walk faster. We shouldn’t have to exchange simple goodnights for ‘text me when you get home’ sentences. We shouldn’t have to put our life on the line every time we walk somewhere by ourselves. We shouldn’t have to be scared in our own town, or in any town. But we are. We have to be cautious and walk faster and with our heads down, be hyper-attentive of our surroundings and hope that nothing will happen.
We Are Allowed to Be Scared
Let me be scared, and instead of giving me weird looks and thinking I am just being excessive, stay on the phone with me.
Hope, however, won’t get us anywhere in this particular case. You don’t fight injustices by hoping they will go away and that the next victim will not be you. We have to fight. We have to lift each other up. I have received crazy looks from some of my friends, both male and female, from time to time, when I told them if they could call me on my phone and wait on the line with me until I got home. I have been told that I was being paranoid, that I was being dramatic and that there was nothing to be scared of. I imagine many young women being looked at the same way, but we shouldn’t feel ashamed of something we can not control. Fear has never hurt anyone, it is what or who you fear that is going to hurt you. So, let me be scared, and instead of giving me weird looks and thinking I am just being excessive, stay on the phone with me. Women should show understanding one towards the other and accept each other’s fears and doubt without any judgment. On the same level, men should also do their part and do what they can to help their loved ones be safe.
Going The Extra Mile
The gruesome femicide of Sarah Everard committed by Wayne Couzens inspired many women, and hopefully men too, to open up and check up on each other. But it’s still not enough, because one out of six women is still a victim of assault and it is just not acceptable. Actions need to be taken, even if we have to walk miles in order to make sure that everyone is safely behind the walls of their houses, we have to do it. We have to go the extra mile in order to change how things are. We have to go the extra mile to find out the answer to the question: “When will women finally be safe?”
Cover: Asiah Capponi
Edited by: Sophie Kulla