Are you really safe?

Sure, being attacked on the streets is a possibility; but is the probability really that high? To understand the extent and severity of this issue, let’s focus and talk about the concentrated topic of sexual assault in England and Wales itself. Around 97,000 adults, from the ages of 16–59, experience some sort of attempted rape or sexual assault here every year. At first, this number may not seem to be a profusion in comparison to these two countries’ populations of around 56 million. However, if we further explore the statistic of 97,000 cases per 365 days, within a brief period we would realise this number equates to there being 11 sexual assaults every hour! And this is in a forward-thinking developed country like the UK.

On 3 March 2021, Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was walking home to Brixton Hill from one of her friend’s houses near Clapham Common. She had been on the phone with her boyfriend for around 15 minutes and had told him that they would meet the next day. However, Sarah Everard neither met her boyfriend the next day, nor reached home safely.

When her boyfriend was unable to contact her, he began to get extremely concerned and called the police to help locate her whereabouts. The police began an investigation and checked the security cameras near where she was walking on 3 March. Sarah was seen on the phone for around 15 minutes at 9.00pm. Later, at 9.28pm, with the use of a doorbell camera, she was seen walking past, and four minutes later registered on the dashcam of a police car passing by. Investigators considered the possibility that the police officer used his police warrant card to convince Everard to get into the car.

On 9 March, the Kent Police arrested Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old Metropolitan Police constable and firearms officer, on suspicion of kidnapping. At a hearing on 9 July, Couzens pleaded guilty to rape and murder. Not only is it horrific that rape and murder such as this happen at all, but even more so, the fact that it was a police officer who committed this crime. 

So, is the probability really that high? Yes. The statistics I have given at the beginning only considered those who had spoken about their experiences and reported them. However, thousands of victims choose not to speak up about such events due to blackmail, shame, politeness etc. 

The example of Sarah Everard really helps represent the flaws in society and provides further reasons for why one must always be prepared for the unexpected.

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