May 19, 2024

Zara Aleena’s killer has been sentenced to life in prison, but more must be done to protect women and girls

So, what needs to happen next? While the police have a duty to protect women from harm, the root of the problem is societal. Khan says violence towards women and girls needs to be treated like a nationwide public health issue.

“You deal with the infection, you stop the infection spreading, but you’d also see what caused the infection,” he says, highlighting that research has shown that many violent men are either exposed to or subjected to abuse as children. What we need, he stresses, is better support in schools – boys and girls are now being taught from an early age about what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and some London teachers are being ‘trauma trained’ to ensure they can best support children who might be suffering at home.

In the cases of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and Gracie Spinks, all murderers had a history of either violent or sexually inappropriate behaviour. Monitoring of abusers is urgently needed. “If those cases teach us anything is that we need proper offender management and deescalation,” says Phillips. “If a 16-year-old flashes at people in the street, I want that child to be provided with proper sexually harmful behaviours training. I want them to have to work through why that is unacceptable and what brought them there. I want to stop that kid from escalating into a Wayne Couzens. ”

Phillips says making misogyny a hate crime “wouldn’t go amiss”, which would enable the authorities to understand the scale of the issue. She also calls for a complete redesign of the justice system. “There needs to be an entire shift in how we think about violence towards women and girls and why it happens that takes it into the sphere of health, housing, economics and welfare,” she says. “We need to stop trying to fix this broken pot, and start building a new one. ”

Are we safer now than 12 months ago? The sad truth is probably not, but there is more cause for hope than there was then. In the same way the #MeToo movement sparked a conversation that will never be silenced, we face a similar moment now in relation to violence.

Women have finally run out of patience for this stuff. We’re fed up of not being able to go for runs at night. We’re tired of having to text our friends to say we’ve got home safe. We are tired of worrying about them when they forget. We’re tired by loved ones telling us to be careful on our route home as if we have any control over whether a man will attack us. We’re exhausted about hearing the words ‘not all men’, when almost every man knows someone who is a bit ‘handsy’ or ‘bad when drunk’.

Men, you can stop those guys. Talk to them, shun them. We’ve tried and, so far, it hasn’t worked. We’re still being killed.

“There is a chance for people to make this issue the thing they care about, that they want their local MPs and their police officers to care about,” says Phillips. “This is a movement that your readers are changing, it’s the women coming forward, the women calling out men in their offices or their mates down the pub. We are changing the conversation.

«Your readers are the exact people who are leading this revolution and, let there be no mistake, this will be a revolution. ”

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