School lifts ban on crop tops to stop 'victim blaming' after Sarah Everard murder

A SCHOOL has lifted its ban on revealing clothes in an attempt to combat victim blaming following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Sixth-formers at Putney High School in South West London are allowed to wear their own clothes, but until now have been told they must be "sensibly dressed".

The rules previously stated no midriff, no bare shoulders and no torn clothing was to be worn at the £19,000 a year school – ruling out strappy tops and short skirts.

The guidelines will be scrapped, however, from next month in a bid to help shift how society views the causes of sexual harassment.

Putney High School's headmistress, Suzie Longstaff, said it was the murder of Sarah Everard, 33, in London earlier this year which triggered the change.

"It was very much driven by the death of Sarah Everard," she told The Telegraph.

"Putney High School is located quite close to Clapham so it really touched a nerve with the students."

Mrs Longstaff said that many of her sixth-formers had attended the Clapham Common vigil for Miss Everard, a marketing executive who was raped and killed by an off-duty police officer.

They later asked the school to review the dress guidelines "in the light of Sarah Everard's death, because the nuance and the narrative has changed in modern parlance on dress code."

Victim-blaming is the suggestion that a woman brought a sexual assault upon herself because of the way she was dressed or by her demeanour.

"It is about the safety of women, and instead of saying, 'you can't wear those clothes', actually it's about focusing on society and making society safer," Mrs Longstaff added.

The headmistress also hopes that easing the dress code rules, which will mean girls can wear strappy tops, crop tops and shorts in the summer months, will help them feel more comfortable.

She explained: "If you are telling a student off for their uniform, is it because of their body shape?"

The head teacher said the changes her school has made were not down to the Everyone's Invited movement, in which thousands of anonymous sexual harassment testimonies were made by school pupils.

Her policy is, rather, down to a wider shift.

"It's about society finding its way in the new normal, post-Sarah Everard, post-Everyone's Invited, with what is the right language to use around dress and expectations?"

Sarah Everard disappeared in South London in March as she was walking home from a friend's house.

Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer with the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit, subsequently pleaded guilty to her murder.

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