Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton to hold Reclaim These Streets vigils following Sarah Everard murder

Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton are set to join vigils across the country sparked by the tragic killing of Sarah Everard in London.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:14 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 5:33 pm

Sarah’s disappearance while walking home from a friend’s house, having allegedly been kidnapped and murdered by a man, has once again sparked outcry at the prevalence of men attacking and harassing women.

Thousands of women have shared their daily experiences of harassment, the steps they have to take to protect themselves and what men can do to make them feel safer.

A Reclaim These Streets vigil was organised for Clapham Common, around which Sarah was last seen on March 3, at 6pm tomorrow (March 13), with sister events planned across the country.

Worthing Pier. Picture: Steve Robards SR1909933 SUS-190415-152336001
Worthing Pier. Picture: Steve Robards SR1909933 SUS-190415-152336001

The events are planned in memory of Sarah and for ‘all women threatened on our streets’.

Worthing and Brighton piers are planning to host their own vigils at the same time, and a third will be held in Coronation Green in Shoreham.

Worthing’s event has been organised by University of Sussex student Elizabeth, who lives in Worthing.

She said she had been ‘absolutely horrified’ by the events unfolding since Sarah’s disappearance last week.

“I felt like I couldn’t continue to follow the news and do nothing, I found myself feeling so helpless,” said Elizabeth, 27.

“Despite women following advice with regards to keeping safe it sadly still isn’t enough to ensure their safety.

“Keeley Bunker was raped and killed by a male childhood friend who promised to walk her home. In the past year, a school girl aged 11 was subjected to indecent exposure on the London Underground and a woman was forced to flee a bus in London after a man exposed himself behind her, and many women have been victims of sexual assault despite getting a taxi home, including India Chipchase. Libby Squire went missing after a night out with her friends.

Sarah Everard was wearing bright clothing, speaking to her partner on the phone, walking the busier route home and yet she is a victim of male violence. She has been denied her right to speak up about it as her life was taken from her in the most horrific way.

“You can wear bright colours, be on the phone, walk home with a trusted friend, elect to get public transport, and yet it often still isn’t enough. That’s why I wanted to do something that would help give a voice to all victims of male violence.

“I think it has prompted many generations of women to speak candidly about their own experiences which they have kept to themselves for too long which I hope will lead to greater awareness and positive change.”

A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been arrested on suspicion of murder of the 33-year-old and human remains found in Kent woodland have recently been identified as Sarah’s.

The tragedy has shone a spotlight not only on the levels of abuse and harassment women have to deal with on a daily basis, but also the extent to which this has become normalised or accepted as part of every day life.

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The organisers of Reclaim Thesee Streets have appealed a decision by the police that ruled any gatherings would be ‘unlawful’ under Covid restrictions.

Elizabeth said denying people the right to protest sends ‘a pretty poor message’ and it was disrespectful to ask people to simply put their grievances on hold until restrictions are lifted.

“It’s happening now, now’s the time to say something,” she said.

Organisers are waiting to hear from police whether the events are allowed to go ahead.

Reclaim These Streets will be held at Worthing Pier, Brighton Pier and Shoreham’s Coronation Green at 6pm tomorrow (March 13).

Statistics from the charity Femicide Census found that between 2009 and 2018, on average, a woman is killed by a man every three days.