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The horrific murder of Elianne Andam proves the patriarchy is only getting worse


By Sarah Finnan
28th Sep 2023

Elianne Andam/Metropolitan Police

The horrific murder of Elianne Andam proves the patriarchy is only getting worse

Yesterday, Elianne Andam, a 15-year-old teenager was stabbed to death on a busy street in south London during the morning rush hour. A 17-year-old boy, said to have known the victim, was arrested on suspicion of murder just over an hour later. As violence against women continues to break out, both at home and further afield, perhaps one of the most worrying parts is how young the perpetrators are. 

We do everything “right”. 

We don’t go running late at night. We put earphones in but we don’t press play. We avoid eye contact, we don’t engage, we never talk back. We cross the road, we take the “safe” but longer route. We turn our locations on. We text when we get home. I could go on. 

The onus is always on us to do better but I’m tired of all of it. Tired, and angry. 

I, like so many other women, am sick of having to accompany each horrific act of violence with the caveat that we were “right” when it’s so clear that what’s being done is wrong. We shouldn’t have to justify our actions by saying that we were “only” doing this, or “only” doing that. I understand that the intent here is to prove how senseless these crimes truly are, but doing things “right” isn’t the baseline criteria for not being murdered, raped or attacked. 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve done things I “shouldn’t” have in my life. I’ve inadvertently put myself in danger many times before, mostly because I felt that I was entitled to do so. I’ve jogged along the canal, in dimly lit areas, well past sundown. I’ve turned my music volume up when I know I “should” be doing otherwise. I’ve had run-ins with people who I’m lucky to have escaped from, and frankly, it’s a miracle that my actions haven’t had graver consequences

I’m sure my parents can attest to the horror of receiving a 5am text from their daughter in Italy instructing them to “call me when you wake up”. Suffice to say that my semester studying in Bologna got off to a rocky start when I pulled an Irish exit and drunkenly walked home alone… only for a 20-something-year-old man I’d never met before to see his opportunity and try to overpower me, wrapping his arms around my neck, mere metres from my front door. Thankfully, I had the good sense to yell out, though, with no one around to hear, it was mere chance that he got spooked and ran. 

It took me three days to leave my apartment again and it was pure doggedness that made me do so. I downplayed the incident, even in my own head, and was so determined to have a good time that I refused to think about it. I didn’t report it to the police because I knew how that scenario would play out; I’d be blamed for my foolishness (walking home drunk, alone, at night), and nothing would be done to try and find the man who laid his hands on me. 

A couple of summers ago, I was out for an afternoon walk when a group of boys, in their late teens, emerged from the pub onto the path before me. Already stuck for space – what with several other pedestrians, a buggy and a man walking his dog passing by – they did little to accommodate anyone else and so I stepped out onto the road to go around them… a move one of them apparently took as his green light to look me up and down and then make a derogatory comment about me to his friends. All of whom laughed. 

I resisted the urge to turn around and demand he say it to my face, but my walk was ruined by a simmering fury that began bubbling over the further along I went. Nothing I could have said would have yielded the same embarrassment and I didn’t want to agitate the situation any further, but I was annoyed for having let him away with it. 

The day before 23-year-old Irish primary school teacher Ashling Murphy was murdered, I was doing my grocery shop and had to pop into a pharmacy because I thought two young guys were following me home. I dawdled for 15 minutes, pretending to look at moisturisers before taking my keys out of my pocket and continuing on… looking worriedly over my shoulder after every second step. 

I’m not looking for sympathy here – unfortunately, stories like these are a dime a dozen and every woman I know has their own versions that they could pull out and recite – but the fear that something terrible might happen is getting harder to ignore. The age profile of the people harassing us has become younger and even walking to my friend’s house on the other side of town is enough to stir up latent panic about passing gangs of youths who may or may not say something to me. 

Their behaviour is marked by bold defiance and a complete lack of shame. The younger these boys are, the more confidence they appear to have. They don’t care if you hear them… in fact, all the better if you do. They almost enjoy being challenged and their brazen “come at me” attitudes are second only to the sense of one-upmanship that being surrounded by their peers seems to foster.  

Then there’s the influence of personalities like Andrew Tate to contend with. Passersby who witnessed the brutal murder of Elianne Andam in Croydon said that there had been an argument between her and her attacker, who had tried to give her or her friend flowers… Elianne was brutally stabbed in the neck with a foot-long knife because she attempted to fend off a suitor’s unwanted advances. 

As Laura Bates, feminist activist and founder of #EverydaySexism points out, one woman is murdered by a man every three days in the UK. “Teenage girls learn that the risk of rejecting a boy could be a death sentence. But the ones who dare to talk about sexism are branded man-hating feminazis in the classroom.” 79% of young people see sexually violent online porn before the age of 18, but just 1.4% of rapes reported to the police result in a charge or summons. 

Tate, a.k.a. the ‘king of toxic masculinity’, has indoctrinated his legion of followers, many of them young, impressionable teenagers, into believing extremely harmful things about women – the effects of which manifest as misogyny, sexism and, in the worst cases, femicide, sexual assault and rape. This latest tragedy is just further proof of how deeply rooted incel culture is in our society – much of it fuelled by online radicalisation – and how the patriarchy is only getting worse.

It doesn’t matter what Elianne was doing, she shouldn’t be dead. Writer Dalia Gebrial said it best: “The underside of patriarchal desire is revulsion, violence and hate.”

If you aren’t angry – and actively calling out the men in your life for problematic behaviours and ideologies – then you’re part of the problem.

Feature image via Metropolitan Police