The UK is facing an epidemic of violence against women and girls | Women’s Rights

I do not remember much of November four years ago – the day my cousin Gaia was found less than a mile away.

The report states that she died of hypothermia, but Gaia, like many others, was affected by a violent epidemic of violence against women and girls in the United Kingdom at high risk threats under a government lacking wisdom and political will to deal with it. .

In November 2017, Dorset police launched a search for people missing to find Gaia. But by this time he had already upset her.

In 2015, when she was just 17 years old, Gaia told us that she had been raped and wanted to report it to the police. We are a very close family and my cousins ​​are like my sisters, so I stayed with him to talk to the police for help. I also contacted our rape victim center to make sure they had access to technology and support services.

Gaia did everything in her power to soothe his discomfort and help him get over her. But despite her courage, the police decided to drop the case.

“Guilty”, Connor Hayes, was already known to be guilty when Gaia accused him of rape. Dorset police were already aware of others, especially young people, who had been abused. But he decided to drop Gaia’s case. Hayes was eventually found guilty of other crimes, but only served a year in jail before release to make a mistake again.

The police’s failure to prosecute Gaia’s case was a major factor in her health problems, deprivation and death. The rape center, the National Health Service or the NHS and humanitarian agencies also failed to help Gaia and help her deal with this injustice. And, not much has changed in the four years since we lost Gaia – in fact, things have gotten worse.

Nowadays, women and girls in the UK have little reason to believe that the police can take action to ensure our safety and account for those who harm us. The national court rate even for the worst sexual offenses stands at 3 percent, and the situation is even worse when the rapist is a black woman or a minority woman. Why, then, can anyone trust the police when in such a situation?

But the police are just one aspect of the problem. The British people are very bad, and this deliberate ignorance is fueling the epidemic of violence against women and girls in our country. Indeed, the British people seem to be very confused about what it means to be tortured and what seems to be confession. One in three men who responded to a 2018 YouGov survey on sexual orientation, for example, said that if a woman had an affair on a date it would not be rape, even if she did not consent to it. Twenty-two percent of the women polled agreed with that statement. Even if the government fails to educate the majority of the population on the basis of consent, sexual violence will not be known even if it is before us. Is it any wonder that British police seem helpless and unwilling to protect women and girls?

British police and justice have not been on the side of the victims. In recent years, however, because of the combination of toxicity and aggression, he has criticized them – he has raised unbelieving survivors from a technical standpoint to a practical one.

The rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a London police officer in March this year, followed by a series of police brutality against women during her visit to Clapham, was a grim reminder of what most of us already know: the police do not protect us. .

Sarah’s assassination sparked a national outcry over the police brutality and violence in London and other urban areas, but this is not a “town problem”. Police are working to crack down on women and girls in all parts of the country.

Take the case of Dorset Police. According to the findings of our organization, Justice for Gaia, which was established in the days after my cousin’s death to fight for justice for him and all the survivors, of the 2,058 sexual offenses recorded by Dorset Police between 2019-2020, only 46 were the perpetrators.

Between 2015-2019, 13 Dorset police officers or co-workers were arrested on serious charges, including rape, but most were released without charge or penalty. Since 2020, a Dorset police officer has killed a local nurse to death, another has been fired for raping a colleague, and another has been convicted of abusing his role in “sexual misconduct”. A Dorset police officer is currently facing serious charges relating to Sarah Everard’s investigation.

Today, it is a fact that Britain is plagued by violence against women and girls, and the police are at the root of it. No organization that does not want the perpetrators to be held accountable in their own groups can expect to address violence in the area.

That is why earlier this year Justice for Gaia teamed up with 20 other women organizations to ask Interior Secretary Priti Patel to launch a thorough and in-depth investigation into police brutality – a song that was not even honored in response.

Earlier this week a radio reporter asked me what it was like to commemorate Gaia’s fourth anniversary as things get worse for women and girls. He wanted to know how I could remain hopeful that one day Gaia, along with others who had been sexually abused, would find justice.

The truth is, I do not always have hope. Sometimes I just lie there and cry. I only mention this because I know I am not alone, and it is important to acknowledge that no one can be strong all the time.

But I keep coming back and keep fighting, for three reasons.

First, I know that’s what Gaia would do. He encourages me every day to try and be as brave as he was.

Second, I know that none of us have the opportunity to witness this war from afar. If we are no longer safe on the streets, in our homes, in our offices and even in the back of police cars, then there is no choice but to fight. This is the battle of our lives.

The final reason is history. No doubt we are facing difficulties. But the feminist movement is like a chain that has been around for generations. Countless women before us faced the most difficult of challenges to get to where we are today. And we owe it to those who will come after us to keep the chains. We have a historic responsibility to continue this war.

Survivors and paramedics have clearly and clearly stated what we need to do to win this war: a credible reform of the rape justice system and a fearless review to see how racism and other forms of racist survivors survive. access to justice and recovery; independent investigation of offenders and failures within the police force; a major public awareness campaign; an independent review of the judicial system that restores survivors; and fixed funding for professional support services.

These are the building blocks of a secure environment and a future where all survivors are respected, protected and sound. To win the future, we all have to fight.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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