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Column: Toxic masculinity needs to be called out for what it is

The murder of Sabina Nessa in a park in London has once again brought to the fore the dangers that face women who are walking alone, particularly at night.

It is unbelievable that in the UK, in 2021, a large proportion of the population feel vulnerable and unsafe when they walk somewhere by themselves. And, with numerous recent surveys revealing that around 60 per cent of women have been subject to verbal harassment and 12-15 per cent reported being physically attacked, things are not getting any better.

Even more shockingly, a survey by the UN has reported that 97 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed.

Police searching in Tunbrdige Wells in relation to Sabina Nessa murder probe (51799429)
Police searching in Tunbrdige Wells in relation to Sabina Nessa murder probe (51799429)

The problem for society is how this situation is altered without doing even more damage to the relationship between the genders.

How do you warn young girls about the potential dangers of walking outside in the evenings without instilling a fear that turns them into nervous wrecks and impacts the way they live their lives? How do you bring up a young man to respect girls and women when so much of our society accepts and even encourages misogynistic behaviour?

It is not right that females should be ‘attuned’ to danger. It is unbelievably sad that young women on a night out may feel the need to carry an alarm or a spray to ward off attackers. Or that women find themselves checking they are not being followed or glance in shop windows to see if there is a reflection of a potential attacker behind them. To my mind it is absolutely clear. A women who is walking home alone after a night out is in no way at fault. A woman who has a few drinks and then walks home alone is in no way at fault if she is attacked. A woman who wears a short skirt or a skimpy top is in no way at fault if she is attacked. The only fault lies with her attacker.

So let’s start calling out toxic masculinity before it morphs into something worse. A sexist comment, behaviour that makes someone uncomfortable, veiled threats, an overtly sexual or aggressive approach that is clearly not welcome.

Men and women everywhere should be calling this behaviour out. By doing so, they might just stop another appalling tragedy, such as that suffered by Sabina Nessa and her family, from happening.

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