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12th Mar 2021

‘We want to live our lives’: Women in Clapham speak out

Women in Clapham speak talking about their experiences of sexual harassment in the aftermath of the disappearance of Sarah Everard

Nadine Batchelor-Hunt

Women in Clapham speak about their experiences of sexual harassment in the aftermath of the disappearance of Sarah Everard

The disappearance of Sarah Everard has left the entire country reeling, with women across the UK taking to social media to share their harrowing experiences of sexual assault and sexual violence at the hands of men.

Everard disappeared last week walking home in Clapham.

A Met police officer was arrested on suspicion of murder this week, and human remains have been found.

Everard’s family have paid tribute to their daughter, describing her as “kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable”, and that “she aways put others first.”

Vigils are being set up this weekend across the country, including Clapham, in memory of Everard and in protest of violence and sexual harassment of women.

JOE spoke to women in Clapham in the aftermath of Everard’s disappearance.

“Men are the problem, full stop, end of,” said one.

“God bless, Sarah – she did absolutely everything in the book to keep herself safe.

“She had bright clothes on, running trainers, she was even on the phone to her boyfriend.

“She went down all the main roads, she shouldn’t have to do that in the first place but all women have that instinct in them to do that.

“She did that and look what happened.”

Another woman described how sexual harassment by men is just part of everyday life, and how it’s easy to feel helpless about it.

“I think we, not justify it, but if it happens at night you would talk to your girlfriends about it in the morning and then it’s brushed under the carpet.

“You’re like ‘that’s not right – but what can I really do about it?’

“There’s not really a way to know who that person is – especially if it’s done in a club or on a night out,” she said.

“I walk home on a night out and I know I have to keep my headphones out, keep my keys in my hand.

“Speak to a male friend and they’ve got absolutely no idea what that’s like.”

Sarah Everard "Missing - please help" sign

Another Clapham woman described how sexual harassment is not just a British problem, either.  

“I think the first time would be as a kid, probably at the age of seven or something,” she said.

“I’m from Australia, so just in a national park with family and we had someone expose themselves.

“We won’t feel comfortable if we’re walking at night and there’s a man behind use or crossing the road.”

She added there are things that men can do to try and make women feel more comfortable.

“Making yourself known, make it seem like you’re not following us, whatever you can do to do that.

“Whether it’s speeding up and walking past or make a phone call rather than us trying to make a fake phone call – if you guys do that, it normally takes away the anonymity.”