Why we have to change behaviour to protect women - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

Extreme misogyny has no place in our society. We have to look at changing behaviour to protect the safety of women and girls.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 4:45 am
Floral tributes in Plymouth over the weekend. Pic:PA

Little three-year-old Sophie Martyn should have been safe walking down the street with her beloved dad.

As children we look to our parents as our protectors - their main focus is to make sure that their treasured little ones are kept safe from the threat of harm.

Yet the little tot was shot and killed alongside her devoted father Lee by callous gunman Jake Davison.

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Sadly three other victims - including Davison’s mum Maxine - were killed in the shooting spree which has left the community in Keyham, Plymouth, shocked, saddened and united in grief for those lost lives.

As the flowers, cuddly toys and tributes continue to flood in the focus will now turn to the question why?

Why was something as atrocious as this able to happen on our streets?

Over the weekend former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal warned that extreme misogyny and the so-called “incel” community is a threat to women, and the men involved must be identified.

It comes as social media use by gunman Davison showed he appeared to have an interest in the “involuntary celibate” culture.

The misogynistic ideology has amassed a following online among some men who feel they are being oppressed by women due to a perceived lack of sexual interest. And it has prompted a discussion over whether or not incel violence should be treated as a hate crime.

The murder of women and girls in the UK has recently generated hundreds of column inches - particularly in light of the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of a police officer in March - alongside a mass outpouring of grief and anger.

It is a shocking reality that a woman is killed by a man on average every three days, according to a comprehensive report by Femicide Census.

More than 1,400 women and girls were killed in this country in a ten year period between 2009-2018.

Over the weekend campaign group Reclaim These Streets and social enterprise Shout Out UK have teamed up to offer schoolchildren lessons on consent following Sarah Everard’s death.

Those lessons will also look at the concept of “victim blaming” and understanding terms in relation to gender.

No woman or girl should ever feel unsafe just simply walking down the street but the tragic killings in Keyham once again turn our attention to this.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, has launched a call for evidence to help improve safety for women and girls to help shape her forthcoming Police and Crime Plan.

And at the heart of this is bringing about the behavioural changes that will help to influence attitudes towards women and girls in wider society.

The forensic analysis will continue as the myriad of questions come under the microscope in light of the shocking Keyham tragedy.

But we all need to start asking questions of ourselves as a society about what we do next to ensure that we put safety high on the agenda.

We have to.

For the sakes of our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

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