"Shouldnt have to worry when out at night" - Star readers discuss how safe they feel in public
There’s no pleasant way to frame this, this weeks developing news story around the tragic disappearance (and subsequent discovery of her body today) of Sarah Everard has certainly brought the topic of the safety of women to a national stage. Sadly too late for Sarah and so many other women. A vigil in Sarah’s memory is set to go ahead across various locations in the country this weekend.
We asked our readers, particularly women of Sheffield, how safe they truly felt on public streets and this is what they had to say:
Michelle Morgan said that; “I don’t feel safe. Four years ago I went to a grave yard in Sheffield to my relatives grave. When a man started following me and this was in the day time"
Debbie Deeborerah Casey followed up by saying; “Not at night i dont..shouldnt have to worry when out at night” and Julia Neo Baker responded; “Certainly not out at night on fields behind the house.”
Caroline Boldock thinks it could be improved by funding more services and street lighting; “There always used to be a police officer walking around or police cars present but there’s nothing really now. A lot better lighting needed, especially on gennals.”
Lesa Clark (like many) didn’t agree with comments on lighting; “Extra lighting won't do nothing! Free self defence lessons would be appreciated i think but it shouldn't have to be like that but sadly it is!!!”
And, Sam Goodwin (bravely) shared a particularly awful experience in her life; “Having been attacked when I was a teenager living in the countryside people often assume that it would make me more scared to be out walking alone in a big city. Not a chance. I am more aware of my surroundings, I take notice of other people around me and make sure I appear confident and sure of myself. I know how to defend myself if ever attacked again (Maybe an ambulance will be needed for the attacker).”
A Twitter user going by the name TheSheffielder responded to our post saying; “Not just an issue for women. I’ve had homophobic abuse thrown at me in the City Centre on more than one occasion. Safety, or lack thereof, is a critical point that needs to be rectified for all of us living in Sheffield” — we hear you there. We all need to feel safe.
Rebecca Powell-Wood says that there; “Certainly needs to be better lighting in Hillsborough Park... can be very daunting walking the dog through the park when dark.”
Rachel Stock said; “I don’t think any woman would ever feel safe on city’s streets,I know I don’t not even in broad daylight” and she was replied to by Richard Buxton, who said; “to be honest Rachel i dont feel safe on city streets on my own !!! I certainly wouldn't walk on London Road on my own at night.”
Some people felt that punishment for such offences is not as severe as it should be, such as Gemma Louise Snedden, who said; “Well y'know if there was proper convictions for perpetrators, that will go a long way for many to feel safer. But why punish criminals when the problem can be solve with lights” another person who didn’t feel that more lighting was the solution was Nat Reaney; “I don't think additional lighting would make me feel more safe. The rate of report to conviction with sexual offences is always particularly low. A few more street lamps isn't going to solve that issue” — it absolutely wouldn’t but surely something else other than rate of reporting to convict can be done?
Amanda Booker is adamant there we need to; “Get more police back walking the beat, lots of them.”
And finally (but by no means least), Tamsin Jane put it rather succinctly and hit a number of points with her comment; “I've not felt safe in the city centre since I was followed by a male... this was during the daytime. No idea whether it was his intention to mug me, attack me or just creep me out. But it was a frightening experience. I think a combination of education and holding the perpetrators to account has to be the way forward. I think we need far more education in and at home on attitudes and behaviours related to sex education. I think it's also helpful to see other men holding these perpetrators to account. We certainly know that it's not all men and there's some bloody great men out there. But a response of "well it's not all men" doesn't help and it certainly doesn't challenge the behaviour” — we could not agree more, Tamsin.
What is clear is that many of the people who responded would like a much more assertive police presence and not just driving around in cars (to paraphrase a couple of the comments there), street lighting helps by making places better lit but it does not solve the problem. Sure we could have harsher sentences, encourage more people to report these crimes or instances but what else do you think should be done to ensure that everyone feels safe?
Reclaim These Streets will be holding vigils across the country on Saturday (13 March) at 6pm, with attendees observing social distancing measures and encouraged to wear face coverings throughout.
The vigils will involve a one and a half minute silence to remember Sarah Everard “and all women lost to violence”.