Peterborough police say street attacks are rare as women speak of feeling unsafe in light of Sarah Everard case

Police have said street attacks in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are ‘rare’ as women have spoken of their experiences of feeling unsafe in the light of the Sarah Everard case in London.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:57 pm
Sarah Everard. Pic: Met Police
Sarah Everard. Pic: Met Police

A number of people across Peterborough took to social media to speak of their experiences following the disappearance of Sarah Everard in London.

Today police confirmed a body found in woodland earlier this week is Sarah’s.

A serving Met officer remains in custody having been held on suspicion of Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder.

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Today Lizzy Dening, vice chair of the Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group spoke of the reaction to the case - and what men can do to be better allies to women.

Lizzy said: “We are, of course, extremely saddened by the Sarah Everard case. Our thoughts are with her friends and family, and also anyone who has felt triggered by the news - judging by the response on social media, it’s a huge amount of women in particular. Many of us know what it’s like to feel unsafe in public spaces - and UN research this week has in fact highlighted that almost all young women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

“We would very much like to stress that experiencing harassment or violence of any sort is never the fault of the survivor or victim. The fault lies entirely with the perpetrators, who make a choice to pursue violence. Therefore, it’s been frustrating to see so much of the messaging around Sarah’s story to be focused on women, and what we need to do to remain safe. It should be obvious that the messaging ought to be targeted towards perpetrators. We need a zero tolerance message.

“To men who want to do more to help and be better allies to women, the first and most important thing is to listen to women, and believe them. There can often be a knee-jerk defensive reaction - the ‘not all men’ response. But we’d encourage you to look beyond that. No one is suggesting that all men are hostile towards women, but it’s impossible to dispute that most violence towards women comes from men, and is an increasing and unacceptable issue. We don’t expect you to know how it feels to be a woman in public spaces, but we do expect you to listen to our experiences.

“Secondly, we’d strongly encourage calling out any inappropriate behaviours you witness from other men. You hear what’s said about women when we’re not in the room, and, as uncomfortable as it may feel, calling out inappropriate comments or ‘jokes’ about women is a really crucial step towards gender equality.

“We’ll be standing in solidarity with women around the country on Saturday at 6pm - while there’s no organised event in the city, many of us will be lighting candles in our homes to remember Sarah. It’s more than 40 years since Reclaim the Night started in Leeds, and, pre-lockdown, we hosted our own version in Peterborough for three years running, to campaign for safer streets. Hopefully, Covid-19 allowing, we’ll be back again this November, so do follow Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group on Facebook for updates.

“Finally, we’d like to remind anyone who needs it that we provide free support for survivors of sexual violence of any sort.”

A Cambridgeshire police spokeswoman said street attacks in the county were ‘rare.’

The spokeswoman said; “Tackling crimes such as serious sexual offences, stalking and harassment are priorities for the force and we would encourage anyone who has been a victim of this type of crime, or any other offences, to come forward.

“Reports will be taken very seriously, investigated thoroughly and victims will receive full support.

“Attacks on the streets of Cambridgeshire are thankfully very rare but, when they do happen, we will do all we can to support victims and arrest those responsible.

“Anyone who has been a victim of crime can contact police on 101 or via web chat here: https://bit.ly/3vsiYDw.”

For more information on the Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group visit https://www.prccg.org.uk/ or https://www.facebook.com/PRCCG

You can also call them on 01733 852578 on Wednesdays between 7pm and 9pm.