Late Thursday night, Sisters Uncut, a provocative feminist organization that has emerged as a leader of the most forceful protests in Britain’s growing national movement around women’s safety, declared a small victory.
“We’ve delayed the #PoliceCrackdownBill,” the group announced on Twitter. “This is a victory, but we will not stop.”
The announcement was just the latest evidence that this movement differs from past campaigns that opposed violence against women in general terms but that rarely made sweeping demands.
Women are furious not just about the death of Sarah Everard, 33, in London — a police officer has been charged in her kidnapping and killing — but about what they see as a heavy-handed and misogynist response from the police afterward. They are directing their anger at law enforcement and the justice system, and pushing to scrap a proposed police and crime bill, which would create sweeping new restrictions on protests and grant broad new powers to the police.
the arrest of a police officer over her killing, have led many to conclude that the police are an active threat. Women’s safety and freedom, they argue, can come only from much deeper social changes — and any policy change in response to Ms. Everard’s death should focus on those.
Impunity for Sexual Violence
Margaret Atwood famously said that there was nothing in her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” that did not happen to women somewhere, at some point in history. That is often treated as evidence of in-depth sourcing, but in fact it is the force behind the novel’s visceral central horror: that any protection women might think would be offered by democracy, education, wealth or race can all too easily disappear in an instant.
For many women in Britain, Ms. Everard’s killing and the police’s violent dispersal of a London vigil in her memory have triggered a similar horror, on a less dystopian scale, about how unprotected they truly are. It has become a moment, too, to reflect on the suffering of women of color, and other groups targeted for abuse, that has long been ignored.
promised new actions to improve women’s safety: more CCTV cameras, better street lighting, and plainclothes police in bars and clubs to watch for attacks on female patrons. And it campaigned for more support for the police and crime bill, which would grant sweeping new powers to police departments across the country.
All those responses seemed grounded in the theory that women felt unsafe because there were not enough police, with enough power, in enough places.