It will come as no surprise to hear that our school community has been horrified by the Sarah Everard case. Its impact has been felt deeply throughout the school, particularly amongst our student body of young women.
In response to these tragic events, our remarkable students voiced their desire to pay their respects to Sarah within school. As such, in an assembly last week, the OHS community came together to celebrate Sarah’s life and pay tribute to women everywhere who have suffered abuse, harassment or violence. We then observed a minute’s silence. Many students have also chosen to place flowers by the sunflower sculpture at the front of the school.
Aside from these symbolic gestures, which have allowed our students and staff to show solidarity with women everywhere, our Prefect Team decided to write a statement addressing the need for change and encouraging other girls in the school to take action –
‘We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Sarah Everard’s family and friends and we would like to take this time not only to remember Sarah, but also to acknowledge all the other women who are victims of similar tragedies. Whilst we did not know Sarah Everard personally, it is clear that the world has lost another woman who had so much to give and, unfortunately, it took her death to show us all that we are still living in a world where women are killed for being women. According to a survey from UN Women UK published by the Guardian, 97% of young women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed. Although a shocking statistic, we know that, as women, it comes as no surprise.
Let us hope that this event will trigger real change for all women, regarding law, education and societal attitudes. The nature of the incident hits close to home for a lot of girls and women, but nevertheless we will still face disagreement from those who cannot comprehend the nature of this pressing issue; so we must stand up to these people in order to make a difference. If you would like to make a difference, please sign the petition on change.org which aims to make public sexual harassment a criminal offence in the UK. Furthermore, the government consultation on Violence Against Women and Girls which closed in February has now been reopened. We can all agree that it is important that we make our voices heard, so if you want to contribute to this consultation, here is the link to follow: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/violence-against-women-and-girls-vawg-call-for-evidence.
As a community of incredible young women, we want to help make change together, whilst reflecting on Sarah’s life, ensuring that every student has a chance to speak up and act. Although tragic, this event has presented us with an opportunity to educate and discuss this important topic. Please join the rest of the school community in remembering Sarah Everard and pledging to help make change happen as young women.’
It’s been really inspiring to see our Prefect Team stepping up and empowering other young women at this difficult time. It gives us confidence in our belief that, if we work together, we can truly make change happen and create a better future for everyone.