Edinburgh Sarah Everard protest: Call for men to stand with women at Sarah Everard memorial protest in capital

Campaigners have called on men to stand with women ‘and lead by example’ at a protest march marking one year since the brutal murder of Sarah Everard.

By Jolene Campbell
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 6:43 pm

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When 33-year-old Sarah Everard was raped and killed by serving Met Officer Wayne Couzens as she walked home in South London, it sent shockwaves across the country.

In the aftermath campaigners led a wider conversation about sexism and women’s safety in communities.

Sarah's murder sparked national outcry

A year on a volunteer-led initiative Strutsafe which started in the wake of Sarah’s murder is holding a memorial march and demonstration about women’s safety.

Launched by Edinburgh University students, Strutsafe provide volunteers to walk women home at night and run a UK-wide phone service for anyone who needs to get home safely.

Organisers and a host of speakers including Hannah Bardell MP for Livingston hope hundreds will turn out at the march outside the Scottish Parliament at 6pm.

It comes as police are expected to be told to make tackling violence against women and girls as much a priority as fighting terrorism, child sexual abuse and organised crime.

Charlotte Armitage, a Scottish Parliament employee who is attending the march called for men to be allies.

The 23-year-old said: “Conversations are changing but we need material changes that tackle gender inequality and violence. I still get harassed and not just in the street. This protest is about remembering Sarah and women who have been murdered by men, but it’s also a call for real change.

"Men are now more aware than ever of this issue. Yet much of the harmful attitudes are still present. When I’m out in the pub it’s not younger guys my age that make me uncomfortable, it’s the older men.

"Many education initiatives are aimed at schools but need to be out in workplaces, football grounds and where men gather. We can’t just talk about educating our sons, it’s our dads, uncles and older generations too.

"I’m hoping people at the march will hear our frustrations. What we need is for people across the political spectrum to stand with us. We need men to show up too, have those uncomfortable conversations and go away with material steps they can take. They can lead by example. We need action, not pledges.”

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Sally Donald, one of the organisers and a violence against women activist from Edinburgh said: "I’ve been harassed so many times I’ve lost count. A year on from Sarah’s murder I believe not much has changed. There’s greater awareness and that's a starting point but it’s an issue that runs deep.

"Stereotypes still drive inequality. Men and boys are not encouraged to express emotion in way that girls are. Negative emotions fester and come out in rage. We see it hurts them too, male suicide rates are higher.

"We need mass intervention to show men and boys about how to express emotions, how to treat women and girls and what to do to call out their peers if their behaviour is unacceptable.

"When I think of Sarah and all the women since I have to hold on to hope. This protest is about our right to safety. Safety might be at the front of people’s minds but there’s still a long way to go to wipe out male violence against women.”

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