Do you remember Sarah Everard? Let’s do some memory exercises! We all need it.
Wayne Couzens, a police officer in the UK, killed a woman. Last year, her body was found, ironically, on International Women’s Day. Her name was Sarah Everard and was 33 years old. She was walking alone to her home, from Clapham Common to Brixton, when the police officer stopped her. He arrested her for having breached COVID guidelines, and put Sarah in the car. The date was the 3rd of March 2021. On the 10th of March, Sarah’s body was found in Kent, burned.
Sarah’s murder resonated deeply with society because she was killed by a police officer, someone whose job it is to protect. Everyone was shocked. Many people reacted to this horrific murder by holding vigils and left thousands of flowers in the Clapham Common band yard. Speeches were given about violence against women and girls. Now, it’s been a year. On her first death anniversary, some speeches were given to memorialize the event, and flowers left. But that’s all. We forget too easily.
The week before Sarah’s body was discovered, she was simply missing. No one had any idea what happened to her. Unfortunately, her story is not special. Today, London’s streets are still full of posters for lost women or girls. It begs the questions: Has anything changed? What would it take for women to be safe in this world?
In the 28 weeks after Sarah’s death, 81 women have been killed in the UK. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between April 2020 and March 2021, 177 women were murdered in England and Wales. Of these women, 32% were murdered by partner or ex-partner, and 17% were murdered by strangers. These victims do not have vigils or memorials, no speeches were given when their lives were taken. Most people do not know of their passing. They are just a name or little photos on lists.
At the same time, they are not.
They led lives. They worked, studied, laughed, and loved. Remembrance is necessary as a way to protect other women and girls. That’s why we should remember them. We should remember them as a way to protect other women and girls.
It is important to remember, not just for Sarah’s memory but for all women. It is important because otherwise, we normalize femicide. If femicide becomes normalized in our collective societal consciousness, what will that mean for women’s rights? We need to embed the names and lives of women lost to femicide in our collective memory.
Society’s collective memory is activated by its moral consciousness. In turn, it can be leveraged to create pressure on laws and governments. Activism, protests, and speeches are necessary, but have their limitations in affecting long term change. By themselves, obviously, they are not enough. Societal collective memory is far more powerful and is more vital than adverts on public transport, political speeches, or flowers left in the Clapham Common band yard. Our collective memory can save lives. And every life, every women’s life, matters and is worth protecting!
Why do we need apps focused on women’s safety, like bibti, in our modern life? Because our collective memory suffers from amnesia. Till we learn to remember, bibti, and other women, will help us.