It’s just another facile response to the problem of violence against women. Only structural change will stop misogyny
There’s a rape alarm, stashed somewhere in a drawer in my bedroom. We – the young women – were given them in the first week of university, when some of us had just been released into the world for the first time. In a box under the drawer, there’s a small can of Elnett hairspray. I remember buying two: one for the beehive I was rocking at the time, the other for spraying a man in the face should he attack me, a tip I had read about in Cosmopolitan magazine, because pepper spray isn’t legal in the UK. For a while I kept these in the pocket of my vintage fur coat, until the coat fell apart as I stood on an escalator at Angel tube station (serves me right), and they were forgotten.
I remembered the existence of these items, their ultimate futility, when I read about the new women’s safety app backed by the Home Office, created in response to last year’s huge outcry about violence against women. The app, which tracks users’ journeys home, has been rightly criticised by experts as doing nothing to solve the underlying problem of misogyny. As far as I can see, it simply codifies the safety behaviour in which women already engage: “Text me when you get home.” The app gives you a monitored route, and if you move more than 40 metres from it or are still for three minutes, the app asks you if you’re OK. If you don’t reply, it sends a notification to one of your “guardians” (a friend or family member, not patronising or loaded language at all), who can check on you and alert the police.
Violence against women and girls, Society, Women, Crime UK news | The Guardian