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Tributes Paid To Sarah Everard At Portland Steps

Students placed several tributes for Sarah Everard at the Portland Steps at UoN's University Park Campus last week.
Freya Peake

‘We deserve to feel safe’, ‘shame on you’, ‘end violence against women’ and dozens more plaques have been placed at the Sarah Everard memorial at the top of Portland Steps in the weeks following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Organised by UoN’s Feminist Society, the memorial has seen an outpouring of grief from students at the tragic murder of Sarah Everard on 3rd March 2021. This comes in the wake of a UN report which found that 97% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment.

This raises the question of how, in this day and age, can sexual harassment still be normal part of life for women?

Women took to social media in their thousands

Sarah’s death has sparked an outcry from women across the University and in wider society.

Women took to social media in their thousands, sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and demanding social change.

Protests have occurred up and down the country, including a ‘Reclaim the Streets’ protest at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham on Saturday. 

The events of the last few weeks have sparked conversations in student houses, friendship groups and families.

While the last few weeks have led to a sense of solidarity between many women, there has been wider conversation about the different experiences for women based on race and sexual identity. 

Five years ago, Nottinghamshire Police moved to classifying misogyny as a hate crime. The government has now announced that it will be compulsory for all police forces to collect data on crime motivated by hostility towards women – a potentially significant step towards misogyny being classified as a hate crime on a nationwide basis.

The University has reiterated its commitment to stamping out sexual harassment in the student community

The UK government will face difficult questions and challenges in its response to this crisis. There has already been widespread criticism of the government and police forces for their heavy-handed response to vigils and protests. Particularly as this coincides with the proposal of a new Police, Crime, Sentencing and the Courts Bill which has sparked much controversy for its restrictions on the right to protest.

A new ‘Our Streets Now’ campaign has been set up by UoN students and has issued an open letter to the Vice Chancellor. The University has reiterated its commitment to stamping out sexual harassment in the student community, but it remains to be seen what action the University and the government will take to ensure students never have to see another memorial at the Portland steps.

Freya Peake

Featured image courtesy of  Phoebe Raine. No changes were made to this image.

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