If you're a woman living in the UK, it's likely you've been following the harrowing story of Sarah Everard.
The 33-year-old went missing while walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham last week. Yesterday police announced the arrest of a police officer in connection with her disappearance, shortly after sharing the news that human remains had been found in Kent.
Everard's disappearance has undoubtably brought the issue of women’s safety on the streets to the fore, with her name trending across social platforms, and many users sharing statistics on violence and harassment toward women.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has sought to reassure the public in the wake of the latest developments, saying it is 'thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets'.
But, she added, 'I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public – particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing – will be worried and may well be feeling scared.'
Criminology professor, Marion Fitzgerald echoed Dick's sentiments, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme that 'the fear is real and it's always heightened when something major like this is in the news.' She added: 'That doesn't mean to say the risk has changed - it hasn't changed much over many years.'
Many women agree; Sarah's tragic experience highlights the ongoing issues around our safety and the onus that is put on us to protect ourselves.
In fact, a new YouGov poll found that most half of women surveyed 'always' or 'often' felt unsafe when walking down an alleyway by themselves (49%) or when walking alone at night (46%), and one in three women take conscious action to avoid being assaulted. By contrast, 11% and 13% of men felt the same.
The feeling of fear is very real for many of us, and never has this been clearer than on Twitter over the last few days, as women express their horror, rage and disbelief at what appears to have happened to Everard.
It is now clear that, if you have ever felt unsafe out alone after dark — whether on a run or walking back from a night out — you are not alone. In fact, the case has sparked an outpouring stories being shared across social media, with hundreds of women coming forward with their own examples of times when they felt unsafe, using the hashtag #SarahEverard...
Anyone who has information that may assist the investigation into Sarah Everard's disappearance should call the Police Incident Room on 0208 785 8244.
Contact Missing People UK if you have been affected by someone going missing.
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