“The sentencing of Couzens won’t leave women feeling less afraid. We know that the risk and fear of male violence is woven into the fabric of most women and girls’ daily lives. For Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and the countless other women murdered at the hands of men, can there ever be justice? True justice means no other women becoming victims of male violence.
Justice means rape victims being believed, it means women having access to refuges, and to specialist support. It means tackling the attitudes and gendered norms that underpin and normalise all forms of male violence and an overhaul of a sexist and racist police force. It means investment and research into prevention work, and criminal justice and political leaders who genuinely prioritise tackling violence against women and girls to bring about meaningful change.
The handing down of a long prison sentence must not distract us from all the work that is needed to stop more women and girls being killed, being raped, abused and harassed. Violence against women and girls exists on a continuum, Couzens engaged in other forms of abuse in the lead up to murdering Everard. The connections between so called ‘lower-level offending’ and the escalation to other harms must be further explored if we are to end and prevent violence against women.
The fact that Couzens was a serving police officer when he murdered Sarah Everard is a reminder of how structures of power can mask, and enable abusers. The Met police has an appalling track record of responding to perpetrators within their ranks. How can we be expected to take their efforts at tackling violence against women and girls seriously when they aren’t able to hold their own officers accountable?”
Wayne Couzens was handed down a whole life sentence today on the 30th September 2021, meaning he will never be eligible for parole.
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