Holyrood protesters demand change one year on from Sarah Everard’s murder

A protester holding a sign which reads "educate your sons"
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Women pledged to “put pressure on those in power” as they marked the anniversary of the murder of Sarah Everard.

“Nothing has changed”

Demonstrators gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh a year after the 33-year-old was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a serving Metropolitan Police officer as she walked home in South London. Her killing in March 2021 sparked outrage across the country, but campaigner Rachel Chung said 12 months on “nothing has changed”.

Protesters gathered to mark the anniversary of Sarah Everard’s murder (Family handout/PA)

To applause, Chung said:

We’re not here looking to become martyrs, I don’t want to be a poster, I don’t want to front a news campaign. I don’t want to die.

I want to wake up in the morning and know that I am treated like a person.

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Together with Alice Jackson she was inspired to form Strut Safe in the wake of Everard’s murder, with volunteers from the group  providing a free service to help women walk home safely in Edinburgh, along with phone support in the rest of the UK. Speaking at the rally, Chung insisted:

We’re punching up, we’re here to put pressure on those in power, and if those in power are not prepared to listen then we will leave them behind.

As long as we are out here protesting, as long as I can look out into this crowd and see all of you come out here, then I have hope, I have radical hope that we will see change.

Because we’re not going to give up. There are more of us than there are of them, and because we are stronger than they are.

Demonstrators demanded change (Jane Barlow/PA)

With politicians mingling with demonstrators among the crowd, one mother took the chance to demand change. Jessica Ross attended the rally with three of her children, who were carrying flowers to remember Everard. As they were photographed, she shouted:

A picture is awesome, but I shouldn’t have had to drag them out and explain why [Sarah Everard] died.

“We should be able to live our lives”

SNP MP Hannah Bardell told the crowd that male violence “continues to be a huge and pervasive issue”.

The Livingston MP added:

We have a problem in society across the UK. If we continue to ask what a woman was wearing, how drunk the woman was, how the woman got home, we are not going to take on the challenges we face of misogyny and male violence in our society.

As long as we blame women for the actions of violent men, rather than changing society to challenge the actions of violent men, women and girls will continue to live with the restrictions and fear of male violence.

Because it doesn’t matter if we are just walking home, or out for a run in the middle of the night, or dancing down the street in our knickers, we should be able to live our lives without fear of being murdered.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell
SNP MP Hannah Bardell told the crowd that male violence continued to be ‘a huge and pervasive issue’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said:

We are here tonight to remember Sarah Everard, but I hope we are here tonight to rage against the system, to rage against the patriarchy, to rage against those men who make us feel unsafe.

The Central Scotland MSP said the rally was “also about all the other women who don’t get a mention, the women who were murdered behind closed doors by the people that they loved and trusted”. She added:

We say tonight ‘enough is enough’.

Tonight we are here to show respect, we are here to remember, but we are here to rage against the system.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said ‘enough was enough’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

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