If like me, you slept for a total of 40 minutes last night because of the anger, frustration, and terror in our city after the news about a young woman going missing at night in Clapham, then you may have also found it hard to get on with your day today. I’m immensely fed up to the point I feel sick, and I’m not the only one.
This sadly isn’t new information. People go missing every day across the world, it’s a terrifing fact, but in light of what happened to this individual has sparked dismay. Women have been told to keep themselves inside to feel safe, a rather difficult realistion to sit back and digest.
I’ve educated myself massively in the last few years, with shows like “I May Destroy You” creating a platform of information for women and men to recognise their own assault and understand events that may have happened to them wasn’t their fault. With the Guardian bringing information forward this week to say, “One in five women have been sexually assaulted” for someone who smiles at the neighbour, clears her head with daily meditation, and attempts to stay on the sidelines; I’m now fighting to shout from the rooftops to dramatically change how we women feel in London.
I’ve been trained throughout my life to keep quiet, not to draw attention to myself as a woman through society. And for most of it, I succeeded in doing this. I went across town understanding where I fitted in, knowing that if I was to be brought a drink in a club I was to be committed to the individual who purchased it. I knew I had a well-paid job, and that I shouldn’t question my pay and my worth for being a woman compared to a man. It’s easier to cruise by life under the shadows. But being cooped up inside for nearly a year in lockdown has managed to shift my perception dramatically. I jumped out of that perfect plastic container and looked around me.
London sadly has little respect for women’s safety. Not only are assaults not taken seriously by the police, telling females to stay inside instead of gaining their confidence to feel free in their activities, but the attitude and arrogance from the superior men controlling our city is at an all-time high.
How many of you females have been told by your parents not to walk alone at night? How many of you females tell your friends to text you when you get home? How many times as a female have you crossed the road because you have felt threatened by a male?
For the last five years living in London I’ve faked phone calls into my headphones so that watching men believe I’m talking to a friend or family who knows exactly where I am. I’m fed up with feeling threatened and anxious constantly. I won’t jeopardise my freedom of being able to exercise or eat because I’m intimidated by men. But seeing the murder of an innocent woman has caused sirens in my head, and I, like millions of women, want this issue to be taken seriously.
Three years ago I was walking home from therapy in Dalston when a young man followed me through the back roads towards my house. I was already slightly exhausted from discussing mental abuse from a previous partner in my session, so was keeping my head down and walking slowly. That’s when the man approached me and grabbed my ass. He ran away so quickly by the time I turned there was only sheer darkness across the road. I stood there shaking unaware of what to do. This was my body, who was that man and why did he think he owned it?
This week has sadly created a black hole of memories for many females who have been assaulted across the city. I want men to take a moment this week to listen to females' stories, educate themselves with how we live, and breathe fear in their shadows.
It’s time London’s attitudes change, we aren’t to stay inside feeling scared because of this shocking news. Gone are the day's police laugh at women’s allegations towards men. Gone are the days I feel stupid to voice my past experiences. It’s time men understand their actions and shift their presence in how they react on the streets, and we gain our confidence back in parks, taxis, bars, and restaurants again.