The Guardian view on violence against women: without safety, there can be no equality | Editorial

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The welling anger and frustration voiced online this week reflect the persistence of harassment and assault

The last day or so has seen an outpouring of grief and anger over the disappearance of Sarah Everard, who vanished last week as she walked home in Clapham, south London. A serving Metropolitan police officer has now been arrested on suspicion of her kidnapping and murder. Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, told reporters: “It is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets. 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.”

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As her remarks suggest, the case has sparked a potent reaction. For many women, it has tapped into far broader concerns about the abuse and violence they face. Six women and a little girl have been reported as killed since Sarah Everard went missing, noted Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence. Harassment and assault by men are anything but rare. It is more than 40 years since the first Reclaim the Night march, which was prompted by the Yorkshire Ripper murders and the police response, telling women to stay at home after dark. Now a Reclaim These Streets vigil is to be held in Clapham on Saturday. Women are exhausted. The frustration and rage vented on social media and in parliament is the product of a society where it is normal for women to live in fear.

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