In a week bookended by International Women's Day and Mother's Day celebrations, the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard has acted as a reminder of the gender inequalities still rife in today's society. Men must do better, writes Jack Mountney.

The kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard by Metropolitan police officer PC Wayne Couzens has sent a shockwave of fear across the country. It has outlined that violence against women and girls is all too common, whether it's harassment, abuse, sexual assault or domestic violence.

There were more than 20,000 sexual offences recorded in London alone in 2019/20 and 88,121 domestic abuse offences. Around 8,000 rapes are recorded by the Metropolitan Police in the capital each year. These figures simply do not reflect the true magnitude of the problem, it fails to consider the countless number of women who haven't come forward with their experiences. This is mainly due to the innumerable number of times women have previously been failed by the criminal justice system. The moral scrutiny that women endure when coming forward makes the entire process of reporting a sexual assault unbearable.

Despite these stats, a small minority still suggested that Sarah's disappearance could have somehow been avoided if she had not been walking home alone. This victim-blaming narrative that puts the onus of protection on women, while the behaviour of men goes unchallenged is the exact reason as to why these related incidents will continue to remain an ongoing problem.

Many on Twitter also stated that only a small minority of men are a threat to women's safety. This led to #notallmen trending. This extremely meme-worthy response on social media most often crops up in timelines of defensive men who don't want to feel responsible for making everyone who isn't a man feel threatened, belittled, or discriminated against. That defensive attitude of men who think of themselves as Not All Men is the primary problem of the Not All Men argument.

Actress Jameela Jamil summed it up perfectly in a tweet that read: "It's true that #notallmen harm women. But do all men work to make sure their fellow men do not harm women? Do they interrupt troubling language and behaviour in others? Do they have conversations about women's safety/consent with their sons? Are #allmen interested in our safety?"

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The incorrect response would be to ask women to behave differently.  It is not women who should have to change the way they live their lives, it's men who need to change the repulsive behaviour that is still far more frequent than many like to believe or confess.

The only way we are going to truly fix the problem is by creating a fundamental social shift. This must begin with everyone being upfront and honest, these crimes against women and girls are committed by men, and it's because of men that women feel unsafe on a daily basis. From having to walk with their keys grasped in their fists, crossing the road when they see a man walking behind them, taking shelter in a shop until a potential threat has passed, or wearing trainers so they can run if they need to flee.

The problem is not just with the minority of men who are violent, the problem involves those men who are sexist, continue to behave unacceptably around women, perpetuate a toxic form of masculinity or just watch on when a woman feels threatened or is being threatened.

Ending violence against women and girls needs to be a political and policing priority, not an individual priority. This involves addressing how the justice system routinely fails women, and allocating sustainable funding to prevention and support programmes, including education and public awareness. By educating people, and in particular men and boys, about the sexism and misogyny that's still widespread, to promote male role models who speak out and to empower men to challenge harmful behaviour.  Culturally, we must get to a place where we have zero tolerance in our society for all forms of misogyny, abuse and violence towards women.

Women are not going to feel safe overnight, but everyone has a part to play in progress. Whether that's by campaigning for legislative change, calling out harmful behaviour or just putting yourself in a lone woman's shoes at night and ensuring you're not appearing to be a threat, we can all make a difference. We have a duty to Sarah Everard to keep having these conversations and ensuring that her case is a catalyst for change.

We must do better, and we need both men and women to achieve this.

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