When Sarah Everard went missing on the 3rd of March, many hoped she would eventually be found unharmed. However, days later, her remains were discovered more than 50 miles from Clapham Common, where she was last seen. Sarah had just been walking home when she went missing, after enjoying an afternoon with a friend. The man who has been charged with her kidnap and murder was a serving Metropolitan Police officer.
Sarah’s story has hit a deep nerve. Like Sarah, many of us walk home after a fun evening. Many also find walking home alone after dark quite frightening – our bodies on constant alert for threat. In the days following Sarah’s death, women online shared stories of always walking with keys between their fingers “just in case”, while others revealed times in which they’d been harassed or abused (a study published last week showed that nearly all young women in the UK have been sexually harassed, with most never reporting it.) Sarah’s story confirmed what many already knew: that public space is often unsafe, and that the authorities do not do enough to protect people.
It’s not just cis women who experience misogynistic violence, abuse and murder. All marginalised genders move through public spaces with a second-nature alertness, for fear of what might happen, as do many queer people. For people of colour, and for trans people of colour specifically, this alertness is often heightened. We just don’t often hear about it on mainstream news channels.
When Naomi Hersi, a 36-year-old Black trans woman, was brutally murdered in Houslow in 2018, her 25-year-old killer Jessie McDonald was jailed for just 20 years, meaning he could be back on the streets in his forties. Many have also drawn comparisons between Sarah Everard’s case and that of Blessing Olusegun, a 21-year-old student who was found dead on a beach in East Sussex last year. Blessing’s death was treated as “unexplained”, and this is the first time many have even heard about it – evidence of a larger pattern when it comes to violence inflicted upon Black women.
When something shocking happens, there’s often a wave of outrage on social media. Pastel-coloured infographics are shared, petitions are circulated and emotive retweets abound. But as we’ve learned time and time again, shouting into the echo chamber only ever achieves so much. With that in mind, here is a list of UK-based organisations fighting abuse against women and other marginalised genders. You can get involved or donate directly using the links below.
Founded in November of 2015, Sistah Space is a community-based non-profit initiative based in Hackney, east London. They work with African heritage women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse, or who have lost a loved one to domestic violence.
Sistah Space provides advice and support, as well as practical help, such as sanitary products, underwear, toothbrushes and other essential items (most of which have been donated by the local community). In essence, they create a safe and practical space for African heritage survivors of abuse. They've also recently been told by Hackney Council that they need to move to a different venue, which they say is unsafe.
A GoFundMe page for the organisation can be viewed here.
Possibly the most well-known on the list, Sisters Uncut is a direct action group supporting women and gender-variant people, and opposing cuts to UK government services for domestic violence victims. Over the years, they’ve demanded an end to immigration detention, occupied a London prison and invaded red carpets to bring mass attention to government cuts.
Following the death of Sarah Everard, Sisters Uncut helped organise a number of vigils and protests, both to mourn her death and to protest against violence against women, specifically at the hands of the police.
You can donate, join a meeting or help organise with Sisters Uncut here.
Southall Black Sisters
Southall Black Sisters are a “not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation” based in west London, and run by a group of Black and minority ethnic women. They provide practical support, information, advice, advocacy, counselling and support for women and children experiencing domestic and other forms of gender-related violence (they accept calls from across the UK, not just London).
Southall Black Sisters can also arrange access to legal advice and representation, and support women in taking legal action to secure their rights. This includes action against public bodies, such as the police or social services. They offer advice in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Urdu, and can arrange interpretation in Somali and other languages.
You can donate to Southall Black Sisters here.
Galop is an LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity based in London that provides emotional and practical support for LGBTQ+ people who are experiencing, or have experienced, violence and abuse (including sexual abuse, domestic violence and hate crimes). They also have a dedicated Trans Advocacy Service which offers confidential advice and support by telephone, email or face-to-face.
Click here to donate.
One25 is a Bristol-based organisation that helps sex workers receive actual practical support and advice in a non-judgmental setting. In practical terms, this means support around housing, mental health, addiction, domestic and sexual violence, finance, wellbeing and the criminal justice system.
Click here to donate.
Paladin is an organisation based in England and Wales that successfully campaigned for stalking to become a criminal offence back in 2013. They also support, advise and advocate for victims of stalking. This means amplifying the voice of the survivor within the criminal and civil justice system, and connecting them to other specialist services throughout the UK. Last year, after the onset of the pandemic in April, reports to Paladin from stalking victims doubled.
You can donate to the charity here.
Solace is a London-based organisation that has been around for 40 years and offers practical advice and support to women experiencing violence of all kinds (from rape and trafficking to relationships based on psychological or financial control.) They offer counselling and therapy, as well as providing accommodation and refuge to anyone made homeless as a result of abuse.
Click here to donate.
Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation dedicated to “addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls”. They are not a direct service provider, but instead work with a range of organisations (both local, national and international) to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls.
Click here to find out more about Imkaan’s training sessions.
Update: we have removed a charity formerly mentioned in this article as their values are not in line with VICE's editorial stance.