CN: gender-based violence

A response to the murder of Sarah Everard

The murder of Sarah Everard, who disappeared as she walked home in London on 3 March, has shone a media spotlight on the issue of violence against women—an issue that has long been the object of feminist scholarship and activism. The fact that the man charged with Sarah’s murder is a serving police officer, who had been reported for indecent exposure a few days earlier, has added a particularly disturbing dimension to the case, as has the decision by the Metropolitan police to aggressively break up a peaceful vigil in her memory on 13 March. Yet, as an outpouring of testimony has shown, abuse and violence against women are an all too common occurrence on our streets. Much abuse also takes place behind closed doors at the hands of partners or ex-partners. And while the Sarah Everard case captured the imagination of the UK media, attacks against women of colour and transwomen rarely attract the same attention.

The Centre for Gender History stands in solidarity with survivors of gender-based violence and is committed to expanding our understanding of such phenomena through research and knowledge exchange. Historical research has a crucial role to play in this effort, whether by analysing the relations of power in which such acts occur, attending to the voices of victims/survivors or documenting the strategies of mutual aid developed by generations of women. Current projects such as Mairi Hamilton’s research on narrative accounts of women’s experiences of domestic abuse in nineteenth-century Scotland and Charlotte James Robertson’s study of the feminist movement to establish women’s refuges and other services for victims/survivors of domestic abuse promise to deepen our understanding of experiences of and resistance to gender-based violence in Scotland. But much work remains to be done. As a Centre we will be reflecting on how we can contribute further to this effort through our research and collaborations with partner organisations.

First published: 31 March 2021

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