We in Brighton & Hove are deeply saddened and outraged at the circumstances surrounding the senseless and violent death of Sarah Everard.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Sarah at this incredibly difficult time.
Our thoughts are also with the families of the many women and survivors who face the unacceptable consequences of gender-based violence and street harassment.
In particular we add our support to the growing calls for police to further investigate the death of Blessing Olusegun who was 21-years-old when her body was discovered on a beach in East Sussex in September last year. Her death has been deemed as “unexplained” by Sussex Police.
The disproportionate number of cases of women who have been verbally harassed, physically assaulted and murdered by men has largely been overlooked by the media and by the policy makers. Too much focus has been on what women should do to defend themselves rather than looking at ways men can be engaged in understanding situations and their behaviour.
No woman or girl should feel unsafe anywhere in public, at any time.
That so many women and girls have – in the wake of Sarah’s death - shared their traumatic and distressing experiences of harassment and violent physical assaults on social media platforms and in the mainstream press, shows clearly how society has failed.
This must change.
Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to supporting survivors of violence against women and girls. Harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated against anyone in our community and we all have the right to feel safe.
As the three group leaders of Brighton & Hove City Council, we are committed to looking at the ways that we can improve our city for the benefit of public safety.
We will also work harder and do more to highlight how behaviour must change. In the weeks and months ahead, we will bring forward proposals for change.
In reflection of recent events and to raise awareness, we have today lowered the flags at Hove Town Hall and Brighton Town Hall in memory of all survivors of violence against women and girls and to commemorate those who have tragically died.
If you’ve been affected by domestic or sexual abuse or violence and need support and advice, contact The Portal to find out more about the help, advice and support available. The Portal is a partnership of leading Sussex Domestic and Sexual Abuse Charities which also offers a range of other services in Brighton & Hove.
To contact The Portal, call Freephone 0300 323 9985 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be listened to and you will be helped.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council and Convenor of the Green Group
Councillor Nancy Platts, Leader of the Labour Group
Councillor Steve Bell, Leader of the Conservative Group