The suspected abduction and killing of a 33-year-old London woman has spurred a cascade of concern over women’s safety and an outpouring of grief from the British public.
The latest: Thousands of people gathered at south London’s Clapham Common on Saturday for a vigil for Sarah Everard that local law enforcement called unlawful. Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that she’s asked for a “full report” from police after images emerged of what she called “upsetting” scenes as they made arrests.
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he’d contacted Metropolitan Police’s commissioner as he was “urgently seeking an explanation” for the “unacceptable” scenes — amid accusations that male officers were “grabbing and manhandling” women during arrests, per the Evening Standard.
“The police have a responsibility to enforce Covid laws but from images I’ve seen it’s clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate,” he added.
Of note: Wayne Couzens made his first appearance in court on Saturday morning following his Tuesday arrest for the suspected abduction and murder of Everard, who disappeared on March 3, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The suspect, who was charged Friday, is a U.K. police officer. London Police confirmed that a body found hidden southeast of the capital was Everand’s, and have said the investigation remains ongoing.
The big picture: The event has “dismayed Britain and revived a painful question: Why are women too often not safe on the streets?” AP writes. “The fate of Sarah Everard is all the more shocking because the suspect charged Friday with abducting and killing her is a U.K. police officer whose job was protecting politicians and diplomats.”
The murder has sparked outcry across the U.K. and beyond, with women and girls sharing their experiences and fears about personal safety on social media and other mediums.
“Everard’s disappearance has shined a light on a double standard that exists: Women are expected to adapt their behavior to reduce personal risk, which in turn fuels a ‘victim-blaming culture’ and detracts attention from male actions,” NBC News writes.
What they’re saying: “I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well,” said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, per The Washington Post.
Member of Parliament Jess Phillips this week read the names of 118 women aloud who had been murdered last year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the case, Al Jazeera writes.
By the numbers: The United Nations in 2019 reported that 71% of women in the U.K. say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public, with the number rising to 86% for women between the ages of 18 and 24.
Centre of London, a U.K. think tank, reported in 2019 that “women were nearly twice as likely as men to mention personal safety as a barrier to walking and using public transport.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comment from Patel and Khan.
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