Last week football supporters in Glasgow, Belfast and other cities in the UK gathered to celebrate the success of Rangers FC.

The police had a choice in these instances as to how they could act to keep the peace and keep people safe; they decided to take a non confrontational stance.

That is their job; to keep the peace, enforcement should only be used as a last resort.

The Metropolitan Police also had that choice in advance of, and during, the recent vigil to remember Sarah Everard;  they choose to reject the safety plans and stewarding proposals of the organisers in the same way the PSNI did at the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast. We must ask why the police decided on such very different responses.

We would like to draw attention to the following facts which have caused anger and fear for women over the days since Sarah Everard went missing and later found dead. This is an on-going fear faced by all women. It has never been properly addressed; it has not been taken seriously by government or society because it is viewed as a ”women’s issue”;  it is most definitely not. We are not raping and murdering ourselves; 98% of the perpetrators are men.

It is a man’s issue which every man must recognise and take steps to address. Simply having a woman as a CEO in a patriarchal organisation or system is not enough to change the culture in itself; it is often tokenism. We need a sea change away from a system that perpetrates male dominance and that change can only come from men becoming willing to share power and recognise true equality of opportunity. Our social environment needs to protect women through education, legislation and societal attitudes.

Let Sarah’s death and other similar crimes against women be the catalyst for change in attitudes towards to equality and to the safety of women and girls.

LPNI EC Women’s Group

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