CW: Sexual Violence 

Over 300 people attended an online vigil on Saturday evening hosted by OSARCC, Reclaim the Night Oxford, and It Happens Here, in memory of Sarah Everard. The event brought together both student and city groups, and replaced a planned in-person vigil, although a representative for OSARCC stated that in-person events will be held once COVID-19 restrictions allow. 

This follows some of the in-person commemorations that have taken place in the city, including the laying of flowers next to the Radcliffe Camera, organised by Oxford SU’s Women’s Campaign. Ellie Redpath, Chair of the Campaign told Cherwell: “Sarah Everard’s disappearance has affected us all, because so many of us have felt unsafe walking home at night, and we should not still be in a position as a society where women and non-binary people can go missing just because they werewalking down the street alone.” 

Of the commemoration efforts organised by WomCam, Redpath said: “It’s important that we show our solidarity in tragic times such as these, and hopefully by placing flowers in such a central location in Oxford, we can pay tribute to Sarah and show our solidarity.”

A representative for It Happens Here told Cherwell: “It Happens Here was involved in the creation and organisation of the vigil alongside OSARCC and Reclaim the Night Oxford. Three generations of our Co-Chairs spoke in turn about the work IHH does, as well as their personal experience and thoughts on the sexual violence women and girls in Oxford sadly continue to face.”

“We were deeply moved by all the women who took the time to share their own experiences, and by the hundreds more who were present, if virtually, to support one another, listen and commemorate the tragically short life of Sarah Everard. Although it’s a shame we weren’t able to meet in person, we continue to believe in the importance of creating spaces, in-person and virtually, where women can grieve, support one another and come together as a community in times like these.”

“The flowers that still lie outside the RadCam remain a poignant physical and visible tribute to Sarah’s life, and we’d hope to return to physical and in-person events as soon as it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, It Happens Here will continue to work with the other incredible organisations in Oxford to support survivors, create platforms to share experiences and remember those we’ve lost.”

The Oxford University Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service can be reached by emailing [email protected] and offers free support and advice to any student at the University who has been impacted by sexual harassment or violence.

OSARCC is also available as a free support service which is distinct from the University.

It Happens Here can serve as an unofficial and informal point of contact for students with any concerns about the issues discussed in this article. 

Councillor Shaista Aziz has been contacted for comment.

Image Credits: Top, Anvee Bhutani, In-line, Ellie Redpath

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