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23rd Sep 2021

No woman should have to fear for her safety on the streets

The death of Sabina Nessa highlights a fear many women have.

Last week, the body of a 28-year-old primary school teacher, Sabina Nessa, was found in a park in London.

Police believe that she was just five minutes away from meeting a friend in a pub, but was murdered on the way.

Her body was found the next morning.

Commenting on her death, Detective Inspector Joe Garrity said: “Sabina’s journey should have taken just over five minutes but she never made it to her destination.

“We know the community are rightly shocked by this murder – as are we – and we are using every resource available to us to find the individual responsible.”

The case has devastated her community in London, and a vigil honouring her life is set to take place tomorrow night.

On Twitter, Reclaim These Streets said: “We will join Sabina Nessa’s community in solidarity against violence against women and to acknowledge her life. Join us in Peglar Square at 7pm. If you can’t join in person, please light a candle at 7pm on your doorstep.”

They added:  “Say her name.”

As police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding Nessa’s death, many have highlighted how the case speaks to a fear many women have – the fear of walking alone at night. Moreover, this is not even the first case of its kind this year. Back in March, Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered after leaving a friend’s house in the evening.

In the aftermath of Nessa’s killing, authorities sparked backlash after distributing over 200 personal alarms to women and vulnerable residents of Sabina’s neighbourhood. Safety leaflets were also distributed. While these measures may have been well-meaning, they speak to a larger discourse that puts the onus of women’s safety on women themselves, rather than addressing the problem of violence against women head on.

To this end, actor and activist Jameela Jamil wrote on Twitter: “I don’t want to hear more public warnings about women not walking parks in the evening. I am tired of women being burdened with treating the symptoms of men’s violence against women. TREAT THE DAMN CAUSE.”

Indeed, women should be able to feel safe wherever they are. But they don’t, and no amount of personal safety measures can change that. In order to curb violence against women, change needs to come from the top down. Women should no longer have to bear the sole burden of safety.

If you have been affected by any of the details of this article, you can contact Women’s Aid’s 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900 and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 77 8888.