Sarah Everard was a 33 year old marketing executive for a digital media agency working in Brixton Hill, London, United Kingdom.
On Mar. 3, at around 9:00pm, she was walking home from a friend’s house. As she was walking back home, she had a 15 minute long conversation with her boyfriend, agreeing to meet him the next day.
The next day, on Mar. 4, Everard’s boyfriend contacted police to inform them that he has been unable to make contact with Everard since the night before and that she didn’t show up for their meeting that day.
Pink posters with the words “missing” on them quickly swarmed the streets of London as efforts were made to hopefully find the woman alive.
Six days after her disappearance, on Mar. 10, The Metropolitan Police reveal they’ve arrested officer Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old man with a wife and two children, serving in the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. They claim he was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.
Detectives soon begin searching two locations in Kent including properties close to Couzens’ residence. A day into their search, they find human remains were found in a builders bag in Kent, which were identified to be belonging to Everard via dental records.
Everard’s death has since let to an outcry across the world, with women standing up against an unsafe environment where an act as simple as walking home at night is one that must be marred by caution and safety precautions.
Downloads for women’s safety apps increased tenfold in the aftermath of Everard’s death, pointing to a culture where great strides need to be made by legislators to effectively make streets safer for women. An eye opening statistic by United Nations Women also began making the rounds of social media, which says 97% of all women claim to have been sexually assaulted with 96% of those never having reported their experiences to the authorities because they thought it wouldn’t lead to any change and was an added hassle.
A vigil for Everard took place on Clapham Common on Mar. 13, quickly becoming the biggest vigil in her honor with hundreds of protestors and mourners attending. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, also attended, with Kensington Palace releasing a statement saying that the Duchess “remembers what it was like to walk around London at night before she was married”.
However, cops quickly descended on the vigil, arresting attendees for violating the Coronavirus Act of 2020 which gave the cops emergency powers to handle public gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus.
The way the cops handled the event drew widespread criticism from all sides of the political spectrum, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he was “deeply concerned” after seeing the footage of the event.
Post heavy criticism, police response has changed dramatically. On 14 March, when more than 1,000 people marched from New Scotland Yard to Parliament Square in protest, the police response was described as “hands-off” and “markedly different” to that on Mar. 13.
Currently, Couzens’ trial is set for October 2021 and the acts of the police during the protest are waiting to be reviewed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, which oversees the police. However, no matter what the verdict of the trial, it is clear that Everard’s death has quickly turned into a movement for women’s safety which seeks to bring to women in a western liberal democracy a very basic right— the right to walk on the streets without fearing for their lives.