CW: rape, murder, sexual assault
Do you trust the police? The answer to that question should be yes. The whole point of having police is to ensure people’s safety. But if you answered no, then you’re not alone. Recent events have really brought into question the extent to which we, as women, should trust the UK’s police.
For a lot of us, the Black Lives Matter movement was the first blow to our trust in the institutions intended to protect us. But the Sarah Everard case has completely shattered it.
Sarah Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder by a MET officer was chilling. He abused his power to end the life of an innocent, young woman. And it isn’t difficult to see ourselves in her. 97% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lives, and the Edinburgh Anonymous instagram page has over 150 posts on it so far, in just over a year. We should be able to turn to the police to report rape or assault, but what will that really do? Women who are brave enough to speak up against their abusers aren’t believed. Their cases are thrown out before they even make it to court, and the lucky few that actually see their case successfully prosecuted, are forced to relive that horrible moment again and again for the public to scrutinise.
The Sarah Everard case has made it glaringly obvious that violence against women doesn’t matter to the police. Wayne Couzens’ colleagues knew what a sexist bastard he is, but they did nothing. He was known as ‘the rapist’, and Sir Tom, who is responsible for the inspection of police forces, told the BBC that “he also had allegedly a reputation in terms of drug abuse, extreme pornography and other offences of this kind.” How could a man like this be allowed to join the police? What is wrong with this country that a monster like that could be given such power?
The police have failed us in the worst possible way – they had a rapist in their midst and did nothing. And it wasn’t as if he was shy about being a misogynist. His colleagues chose to ignore the glaring red flags because it’s normal ‘locker-room talk’ for a lot of guys. This just shows how dangerous and deadly toxic masculinity can be – it’s serious and not something that should be, or can be, ignored.
But what makes it worse is that this shattered trust in the police will keep even more women from reporting their abusers. We can’t pick up the pieces of our trust and glue it back together. Especially not when the system we’re meant to have faith in is so inherently broken. How could we?
So I ask you again: do you trust the police? Because until there is serious structural change in our police, I wouldn’t blame you for hesitating. I just hope that, going forward, women still feel able to come forward and speak out against the harassment, abuse and rape that they suffer.
Image via Pixabay