COLUMN: Women’s voices need to be heard

This week’s column has been provided by Matt Warman, Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness
Matt Warman MP for Boston and Skegness.Matt Warman MP for Boston and Skegness.
Matt Warman MP for Boston and Skegness.

How safe do you feel on the streets? Across Lincolnshire, the chances of that most frightening event – a random, unprovoked attack – are low, and far lower than the national average.

Everyone, logically, should feel safe. Yet events in London over the last week captured that, for many women in particular, they simply don’t. No matter that men are more likely to be attacked: everyone, male or female, has the right to feel safe. Prudent though it might be to take precautions, on route or dress or whatever, they simply shouldn’t be necessary. Sarah Everard was just walking home.

I’ve never felt the need to be cautious on the streets of Boston or London, Skegness or elsewhere – but this shouldn’t be about how men feel. Truth be told I find it hard to imagine feeling that need to be careful, and I struggle to get out of my head the contradictions between sincerely perceived danger many women have spoken so powerfully about and the hard data on safety. And that’s why it’s women’s voices that need to be heard loudest, for the sake of common understanding and real change.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has reopened the call for views on what should be done for precisely those reasons – whether it’s more CCTV or more prosecutions, there’s clearly hard work to do. Even harder is the culture change to make all of us realise that too often ‘banter’ makes people feel genuinely unsafe yet also unable to speak out.