A vigil for Sarah was held in Cambridge over the weekendAmy Howell

Content note: This article contains detailed discussion of sexual assault, harassment, gendered violence and a brief mention of rape and police violence

We at Varsity stand in solidarity with all survivors of gendered violence. The recent attack on Sarah Everard on 3 March 2021 serves as a terrifying reminder to women and people of marginalised genders that they are not safe from male violence while going about their daily lives. The reality that this could have happened to a friend, sister, colleague or mother was, for many of us, at the forefront of our minds.

As part of this solidarity, it is critical to appreciate the intersectional nature of these experiences, with violence often sharpened by existing inequalities of race, class, disability and sexuality. For women and people of marginalised genders, it becomes second nature to modify behaviours and habits because of fears of male violence: whether it be not walking alone while it’s dark, consciousness of the type of clothes they are wearing, or simply being on guard.

Claiming that this is a rare occurrence, that we should think about how many women go home and are not kidnapped is ignorant, naive and disrespectful. Regardless of how often we make it home safe, too many women and people of marginalised genders do not. Women’s lives are marked by fear at the possibility of gendered violence, simply because they are women.

Every week, two women are killed by a partner or former partner in England and Wales. It is estimated that 85,000 women are raped every year and a recent survey revealed that 97% of women aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment. Most of these acts of violence do not result in any consequences for perpetrators or justice for victims, with rape convictions falling to an all-time low in 2019-20. The criminal justice system is clearly not equipped to deal with the violence that women experience and live with every day.

Vigils paying tribute to Sarah were held across the country over the weekend. However, these peaceful memorials were met by police resistance, with a vigil in Clapham Common being violently broken up. The footage of women kneeling in remembrance, whilst being dragged away and pinned to the ground to be arrested by police officers, must not be forgotten.

The scenes from the weekend make it clearer than ever that women and people of marginalised genders’ voices must not be silenced. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament is profoundly disturbing; marginalised groups must not have their legitimate and necessary right to protest eroded.

It should not be the responsibility of women to constantly alter their life choices in order to evade violence - to change clothes and change walking routes out of fear. Rather, we as a society must work to dismantle the laws, institutions and cultures which facilitate gendered violence and everyday sexism. This requires conversations - to remain silent is to remain complicit - but it also requires action. This responsibility should not, and must not, fall solely on women, people of marginalised genders and survivors. We must all take a stand.

We have compiled a list of resources related to the position of women and people of marginalised genders in society, as well as a list of campaigns related to gendered violence to follow, join or support. The list is far from complete, but it offers a way to start engaging in as much learning and action as possible.

Campaigns and organisations to follow, join or support

Sisters Uncut - An intersectional feminist direct action group for women and people of marginalised genders that opposes the UK government’s cuts to services for domestic violence survivors. 

To learn more and donate: https://www.sistersuncut.org 

Our Streets Now - This campaign, started by Cambridge 3rd year Maya Tutton and her sister Gemma, aims to end Public Sexual Harassment in the UK by making it a criminal offence and changing the culture that allows it. 

Sign their petition here: https://www.change.org/p/make-public-sexual-harassment-a-criminal-offence-in-the-uk

To learn more: https://www.ourstreetsnow.org

Cheer Up Luv - An internationally recognised photo series, founded by Eliza Hatch, which retells accounts of street harassment. Subjects are photographed in public places that relate to their experiences, with the aim of dismantling the structures and beliefs that enable abuse.

Find their stories here: http://www.cheerupluv.com

And the Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/cheerupluv/?hl=en

Everyone’s Invited - A movement aiming to end rape culture through “conversation, education and support”. Sharing anonymous testimonies, their Instagram campaign hopes to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of the issue, whilst their website provides guidance on how to hold your own school or university accountable.

Find their website here: https://www.everyonesinvited.uk

And Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/everyonesinvited/?hl=en

White Ribbon - A charity aimed at ending violence against women and girls through engagement with men and boys. The organisations mission is for all men to fulfil the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.

To learn more: https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/ 

Netpol - Sign the petition calling for the government to drop the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and adopt the Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights 

Galop - Galop provides confidential advice and support for LGBTQ+ people who have experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence. 

To learn more and donate: http://www.galop.org.uk/domesticabuse/ 

Imkaan - A women's organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls.

Learn more: https://www.imkaan.org.uk 

Southall Black Sisters - A not-for-profit inclusive organisation, established in 1979 to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. The organisation aims to highlight and challenge all forms of gender-related violence, offering specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages 

Learn more and donate: https://southallblacksisters.org.uk/campaigns/

Disabled Survivors Unite - A user-led organisation creating change and awareness for survivors of abuse and assault, particularly focusing on the higher risk of violence that disabled people face.

Learn more: https://disabledsurvivorsunite.org.uk

Non-fiction resources on women and people of marginalised genders in society

Misjustice, how the british law is failing women, Helena Kennedy: From domestic abuse to the treatment of the woman in the penal system, Misjustice sheds a light on women in law, and the misrepresentation that comes with this.

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir: Beauviour’s influential work concerns itself with the creation of femininity, and where female freedom falls within this restricting concept.

Women, race and class, Angela Davis: Davis’ work analyses the issue of female liberation, or the lack thereof, through an intersectional perspective on feminism. 

Domestic abuse as a driver of women's offending, Prison Reform Trust: Prison Reform Trust has conducted research that looks into the link between domestic abuse and women offending, finding an urgent need to improve the criminal justice system for survivors.

Flaneuse, Lauren Elkin: This book focuses on creativity and its relationship with the city, explored through influential books written by women as they encounter the urban landscape. 

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the following organisations provide support and resources: