December 12, 2021

How Much More Can Women Do to Keep Themselves Safe?

Fiona Burrows

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Oil Paint on Board“Look Around, Everywhere You Turn Is Heartache” (Vawg), 202160 x 80 cm

This still life painting was created during Wayne Couzens’ trial for the murder of Sarah Everard, and not long after the murder of Sabina Nessa. I channelled my despair into this piece. The objects represent considerations girls have while getting ready for a night out. What do we wear? How much do we drink? How will we get home? Is the route lit? Do we have money for a taxi? Can we trust the driver?… etc The photos show recent victims, who become the faces of our cautionary tales. Though the hearts represent the fact that 57% of the 207 British women killed in the year to March 2020 were murdered by someone they know, 32% by a partner or ex-partner (39% and 2% for men). As a result of making this work, some women shared experiences with me. It seems that a huge number of us have a story to tell, yet society still tries to push a “rotten apple” narrative – that it’s the one-off “bad man” and not a societal issue. How much more can women be asked to do to keep themselves safe, before we see this as an issue for society to tackle?