This is a guest article written by Emilia Lodge
Sefton Park saw dozens of women and their families gather to commemorate the lives of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa on Friday evening. Their murders provoked a national wave of grief and outrage and the event’s organiser, 29 year old teacher Jodie Bradley, rallied the women of Liverpool to ‘Take Back The Night’ in their memory. The pressing question of ‘Will I be safe?’ plagues women daily and Jodie was determined, for this one night at least, to make the answer to that question ‘Yes!”
‘Liverpool is a pretty vocal city so I googled stuff expecting a walk or a vigil and there was just nothing going on so I thought I’d do it myself, even if it ended up just being my friends and family.’ She said, speaking before the event. The walk was an opportunity for women to show support for the families of Sarah and Sabina. Promoting through the instagram page @liverpoolwomenwalk, Jodie’s following soon grew across Merseyside.
When asked what she hoped the outcome of the walk would be, she described it as ‘a double edged sword because you don’t want people to come because it’s in recognition of something so sad and you don’t want people to share these horrible feelings that I’ve had, but if people do come, we can just walk and talk and honour anyone who is a victim of gender crimes.’
‘We all experience the same things and don’t talk about them. It’s sad that the things women do to protect themselves has become normal.’
As a young woman myself, I initially had difficulty finding someone available to come with me and I simply didn’t feel safe enough to turn up at a dark park alone. That ironic dilemma, that would perhaps never even occur to a man, reinforced the importance of such events.
In light of recent news, Jodie said she feels ‘Vulnerable and blamed to a certain degree’. This victim blaming was highlighted this week by a North Yorkshire police commissioner’s comment on BBC Radio, saying that women should be ‘streetwise’ and regarding Sarah Everard being kidnapped under a false arrest said: ’Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process.’
Comments such as these prove Jodie’s, and many other women’s opinion, that pressure is currently being put on women to change their behaviours instead of tackling the real problem.
United in our shared experiences, the group walked proudly through the park together. Speaking to a mother and daughter, Les and Jolie, who had come out together to show their support, Les echoed countless mothers’ concerns: ‘I’m frightened every time she goes out that something might happen to her and she’s 22, she should be able to go out wherever and whenever but [Sabina’s death] means the fear is so much worse now that it has happened again.’
The future is uncertain, but the women attending had very clear ideas about what they want to see change. Jolie said ‘I think as women we just need to check in on friends and family more, speak about the problems together.’ Organiser, Jodie, had similar views: ‘Women aren’t heard; they have experiences that they maybe haven’t shared because they’re scared of not being believed. I just think we need to create a culture where everyone is equal and I try to instil into the boys in my class to treat women with respect.’
‘I’m a teacher and I don’t want the girls in my class to grow up in a city where they can’t explore it half the time because it’s dark.’
Jodie has proven that anyone, with the right motivation, can incite change and do some good in the local community. She is currently planning another walk in Sefton Park on Saturday 9th October at midday, if you want to show your support and just be able to speak to people who experience life the same way as you.
The night ended with an emotional minute of applause for the two young women that inspired this walk. Though no amount of applause will rectify this recent pandemic of misogyny, this moment was for Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa and no man could take that away from them.