18 March 2021, The Tablet

Misogyny is a sin


Sarah Everard killing

 

The dam was waiting to burst. The kidnapping and murder of the 33-year-old business executive Sarah Everard in south London has released a flood of stories from women who have also experienced violence from men, sometimes verbal, sometimes physical. When many such women tried to commemorate Ms Everard by holding a vigil in her name, the police intervened to break it up. In the melee, women were manhandled to the ground by male police officers. To cap it all, the man in custody charged with Ms Everard’s murder was a serving Metropolitan Police officer.

All it would have taken would have been a strict instruction to officers on duty to avoid physical contact with members of the public. That instruction appeared to have been issued a day later, when further gatherings of protesters took place. The initial vigil, on Clapham Common, involved assembling in a public place in a way that may have contravened the Covid lockdown regulations. But there was no overwhelming public interest to justify the heavy-handed police action, and in any event the regulations themselves, contained in a 7,000-word document of about 40 pages, are complex, ambiguous and confusing. What, for instance, is a “reasonable excuse” for being away from home? Why was a demonstration of solidarity with a murdered woman, and all women who have suffered from male violence, deemed “unreasonable”? Leaving such judgements to the discretion of police officers makes Britain look like a police state – and an institutionally misogynistic one at that.

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