The news this week that Wayne Couzens currently serving as a Metropolitan Police Officer, has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Sarah Everard in London, is a horrific demonstration of the persistent levels of gendered violence against women and girls in Britain and the seismic shifts that must be fought for and won to achieve women’s liberation and equality.
When people snidely remark, “why did they not go to the police?”, let this case stand as a reminder. When people say, they should have stayed in a well-lit neighbourhood. Let this be a reminder. When men say that women are exaggerating, let this be a reminder.
The government and police forces should be condemned for their heavy handed suppression of Reclaim the Night demonstrations across Britain and we call on our members and young people to support these demonstrations wherever they are.
We, as women should not have to change our behaviour to protect ourselves from predatory men. Any attempts to shift the blame onto women must be completely rejected and fought against.
Just this week an investigation by UN Women UK reported that 97% of women aged 18 – 24 have been sexually harassed. 96% of those that responded said they had not reported those situations because of the belief that it would not change anything.
Over a fifth of women are estimated to have experienced some form of sexual assault. Despite this, conviction rates for sexual assaults are pitifully low. A small minority of rape cases are ever reported, even fewer face prosecution and less than 1% result in a criminal conviction. Rape convictions fell to a record low in England and Wales last year.
Over 1.6 million women experience domestic abuse every year. One in three women experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes.
As young people, we have the power to make changes to society and combat the oppression of women under capitalism which gives rise to misogynistic attitudes and violence against women.
We in the YCL recognise that we too need to do more to tackle the epidemic that is sexual assault in Britain. We cannot plead that we want to build a better society if these issues are not tackled at the root.
In the same week as International Women’s Day, the Tory government and companies proudly announced piecemeal programs designed to offer two-bit solutions to immense societal problems, it is clear the ruling class and capitalism are unable and unwilling to combat violence against women. No corporate program or affirmative action is going to redress the levels of violence against women and girls that we face.
Communists recognise that violence against women and girls is not an inevitable or naturally occurring reality. The oppression of women is both a function and product of capitalism. Violence against women is directly linked to our marginalised role in society, our exploitation and oppressive ideologies which serve to maintain class rule by dividing working people.
This is a crisis which has to be addressed at every level of society, most immediately with increased protection for women and measures against the perpetrators of gendered violence, but fundamentally by educating the young people of today to eradicate this stain on society.
Britain’s young communists are calling for:
- A new sex and personal education syllabus aimed at combatting sexual violence and abuse.
- Real education about sexism and violence against women at schools, colleges and universities.
- Increased and ring-fenced funding and support for victims of sex-based crimes and violence.
- New mechanisms and funding to detect, investigate and prosecute sexual violence, domestic violence and harassment and violence against women generally.
- Youth-led organisation in schools, colleges and universities to crack down on sexual violence and harassment and bullying.
For equality and dignity for women and girls.
Young Communist League
13 March 2021