As a white, heterosexual male, I have long been part of an endangered species but suddenly it seems that I am a ravening beast who needs to be kept indoors during the hours of darkness.
A member of the House of Lords no less, Green Party Peer Baroness Jones wants a 6pm curfew to keep all men indoors so as to protect women such as Sarah Everard who would seem to have been murdered this week.
This daft idea would do nothing to protect women, especially those confined by government decree to live at home with violent partners. And, bearing in mind the extremist views of some in the trans-lobby, what would stop me or other men self-identifying as women and going out anyway?
As with the Posturing Prince and his Yank, a set of circumstances is in danger of being hijacked and politicised by people with their own axes to grind.
After Sarah’s disappearance was made public, the cops did not help by suggesting that women who lived locally should not go out after dark. That added fuel to the argument that fear of male violence is causing women increased mental anguish, that somehow women require special treatment and are not equal to men.
Young women have flocked to media outlets to tell us they are routinely forced to plan a safe way to get home at night, using taxis they can’t afford, forced to mimic phone calls when approached by strangers, even walking though streets clutching keys as makeshift weapons.
They apparently plan ahead carefully and alter their routes if anyone is watching,
I find it all a bit hysterical I am afraid, even though I am sure these fears are very real to many. Thanks to Bunter J and the inept handling of the Coronabug crisis, this nation is living in an atmosphere of fear and the Everard case has intensified this in yet another direction.
In reality, the number of violent attacks on women in public places has not increased much over the last decade. No, violence against women overall is not on the decline – but it is from random strangers in the street.
In fact, since the arrival of Coronabug and successive panicky lockdowns, domestic violence has soared. The charity Refuge says calls increased by 65% during three months in 2020 and the Plod tell us that one third of all the offences they record involve domestic violence.
During a parliamentary debate on International Women’s Day this week, Labour MP Jess Phillips read out the names of over a hundred and twenty women killed in the UK in the last year. The vast majority were victims of domestic murders but now tragically, Sarah Everard’s name has been added to that list.
The violent death of anyone – no matter what their gender or who killed them, is dreadful, but statistics show us that women are less likely than men to be murdered. One third of murder victims are female, and three quarters of them are killed at home, usually by a close relative. Only one-in-ten female murder victims end their lives on the street.
So what about sexual harassment and the fear of unwanted attention? The most likely place this will occur is in a workplace or on a night out in a pub or restaurant, or in a residential setting.
A new study from UNWomen UK, a charity promoting gender equality, says that 97% of women aged eighteen to twenty four have received unwelcome sexual attention – and 80% said they had experienced it in public places.
Their survey was only comprised of one thousand women, so the results might not be accurate – but catcalling, wolf whistling, and leering remain a considerable issue, despite many years of campaigning against them and improved education.
The charity is calling this a ‘human rights crisis’ and while it is probably true that such behaviour can be thoroughly unpleasant, is it on the increase and what can be done about it in any case? It is already deemed illegal and building sites are supposed to have a code of conduct prominently displayed. I cannot see that it constitutes ‘violence against women’ however. Men have always admired the female form and some do it openly but it is Nature in the raw I am afraid and something we must all learn to live with.
And the figures regarding street crime certainly do not indicate that women are more at risk. Knife crime and gang warfare impact on young people, particularly teenage boys, although teenage girls are increasingly involved.
Austerity measures which led to the closure of thousands of council-funded youth clubs removed safe havens and community gathering points for a whole generation and have certainly changed society in the streets. Knives are now routinely carried to inflict violence and as protection. With restrictions being lifted, and teenagers returning to school after months of confinement, scores will be settled, and drugs will continue to be carried and traded. The cops will have to move a vast amount of their resources into dealing with this potentially dangerous mix during the coming months.
Earlier this week, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick held a press conference to reassure the public, stating ‘it is incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets,’ adding ‘I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public – particularly in the area where Sarah went missing – will be worried and may well be feeling scared.’
Sure they will, but only for a short while and all this dramatically publicised fear of consequences will only exacerbate the situation. It is doubtless pretty daft to walk alone through the streets of any city at night and anyone – not only women – should take sensible precautions if they don’t want to be robbed. In a city where people are hungry, homeless and poor, why flaunt your money or your mobile phone?
And why oh why demonise all men as seems to be happening now – that won’t solve the problem. Sarah was allegedly abducted by a police officer, who could have enticed her into his car by showing a warrant card. With the ever increasing Coronabug powers being handed over to the Plod, any young woman would doubtless do as she was told in those circumstances. That is the fault of government, not all men.
John Warboys, the Black Cab Rapist, persuaded hundreds of women to drink with him – a complete stranger late at night – resulting in dozens ending up drugged and being sexually assaulted.
The most horrific sexual offender in recent years – Reynard Sinaga – was convicted of committing one hundred and fifty nine sexual offences and one hundred and thirty six rapes against young men, who were rendered unconscious after he secretly drugged their drink. Note that his victims were all male.
And the reality is that most men are not rapists or murderers or kidnappers and pretending that they are demeans both genders and will only make women even more terrified.
I fear that it is time somebody who can must try to lighten the burden of fear, blame and acrimony that is rapidly dragging this nation down.