‘We are tired’: MP makes powerful speech about the toll of male violence on women

Emily Cleary
·3-min read

A female MP has told Parliament that women are tired of having to "risk-assess every ordinary everyday action every hour of every day of our lives".

Rosie Duffield, who has previously opened up about her own experiences as a victim of domestic abuse, spoke during a parliamentary debate marking International Women's Day which had a shadow cast over it following the suspected murder of marketing executive Sarah Everard.

Ms Everard, 33, vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on 3 March. 

Her suspected kidnap and murder have ignited anger over the safety of women on Britain's streets.

The Commons debate on Thursday was scheduled as an opportunity to recognise International Women's Day which took place on Monday (8 March) but was overshadowed by calls for violence against women to be recognised and addressed.

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing after walking home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March. (SWNS)
Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing after walking home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March. (SWNS)

Labour MP Jess Phillips spect a minute and a half reading the names of 117 women known to have been killed by men in the past year.

Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, told the house: "It is almost impossible not to be overcome as those names echo around the chamber: ordinary and extraordinary women, mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, colleagues, best friends, neighbours—all loved, all the centre of someone’s world.

"We know the statistics all too well. We know that every single day of every single week—pandemic or not—women are murdered by men. 

"The outpouring of collective rage over the last 24 hours shows that women are tired. 

Rosie Duffield, the Labour Party candidate for Canterbury, poses for a photograph in Canterbury, Britain December 1, 2019. Picture taken December 1, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Rosie Duffield told parliament that women were "tired" of suffering daily threats to their safety (REUTERS/Simon Dawson)

"We are tired of having to pre-empt possible violence. We are tired of having to risk-assess every ordinary everyday action every hour of every day of our lives. We are tired of having to explain and justify every simple choice we make, every opinion we hold, every aspect of our appearance." 

Duffield likened the outpouring of anger to the public reaction to George Floyd's death in America in May last year.

"We are sick of our voices going unheard, our calls for action being dismissed and delayed; sick of rules being changed to exclude us even in the oldest and seemingly most noble of our long-established institutions," she said.

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A police officer places flowers at the entrance to Great Chart Golf & Leisure Country Club, as the investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard continues, in Ashford, Britain, March 12, 2021. REUTERS/Paul Childs
Police officers placed flowers brought by members of the public at the entrance to Great Chart Golf & Leisure Country Club in Ashford, Kent, on Friday (REUTERS/Paul Childs)

"Sarah Everard has reignited a fire within us, much like George Floyd did. Enough is enough. We must take a long hard look at society, at social media, at misogyny, at violence, at ourselves."

Duffield received a standing ovation in October 2019 and moved fellow MPs to tears when she discussed her own experiences of domestic abuse.

She admitted to having suffered coercive control in a relationship and urged other victims to seek help.

Sarah Everard's death has sparked debate about women's safety on UK streets.

ASHFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Police tape is seen at one of the search sites near to a disused paintball centre on Bears Lane, near Great Chart Golf and Leisure during an investigation into the disappearance of a woman, Sarah Everard, last week in South London, on March 10, 2021 in Ashford, England. The police have confirmed that human remains have been found in woodland nearby. A Metropolitan police officer has been arrested in connection with the case. Ms Everard, 33, from Brixton, London, has been missing since leaving a friend's home in Clapham on Wednesday, March 3. She was last seen at about 21.30 GMT, wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, turquoise and orange trainers, a white beanie hat and possibly wearing green earphones. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Remains found in these woodlands in Ashford, kent, were on Fridat confirmed to be those of Ms Everard (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb suggested a 6pm curfew should be introduced for men, later adding that she had made the comments to make a point so "men understand the pressure that women are under".

Human remains were found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday and on Friday police confirmed the remans to be those of Ms Everard.

A serving male Metropolitan Police officer is in custody after being arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder.

On Thursday Everard's family described her as a "shining example" who was "kind and strong".

Watch: MPs listen in silence as women killed in last 12 months are remembered