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Justice for Blessing Olusegun: Is There A Double Standard?

The Facts

21-year-old Blessing Olusegun went missing in September 2020. Unfortunately, her body was discovered on a beach in East Sussex.

She was alone, with only a few personal belongings on her person at the time of discovery.

Sussex Police described her death as ‘unexplained’, and post-mortem exams suggest that she died via drowning.

However, the large gap of time between the last time she was seen alive and the discovery of her body remains a mystery.

Interest in her case has resurfaced after a similar incident happened in March 2021. Sarah Everard, who vanished on March 3rd, was the tragic victim of a murder.

Her body was found in Kent, and a serving police officer has been subsequently charged with her murder. A vigil was held for her in Clapham Common where an otherwise peaceful gathering turned violent.

Police were fiercely criticised for their handling of the situation, with many male officers being particularly heavy-handed against mainly female spectators.

The incident led to conversations about society’s attitudes towards women, with Green Party member Baroness Jones proposing a curfew of men after 6pm.

The differences between the reactions to their death have also sparked debate. Ms Olusegun was a business student, whilst Ms Everard was a marketing executive.

Both cases were absolutely tragic. It’s quite sad and unfortunate that both women were killed in such a manner. Each of them had their whole lives ahead of them, and to see their lives cut short is nothing short of an injustice.

It is no surprise that people are calling for justice for the two women and speaks volumes about aspects of modern society regarding the treatment of women, highlighted especially by the way the police (with mainly male officers) handled Everard’s vigil, attended mainly by women.

Labour leader Kier Starmer said Everard’s case must be a ‘watershed’ moment. Video credit: The Independent

The stark contrast of publicity and attention for the two cases can be attributed to different possible reasons. Both these cases had different circumstances and so it stands to reason the attention of their respective cases would differ.

Some speculate that it’s a class issue. When Blessing went missing, she was on a one-week placement as a live-in carer for elderly dementia patients. Everard, on the other hand, was a marketing executive.

Some would also argue it’s a race issue, and use this case as an example of ‘white privilege’ in action.

However, the reason why Everard’s case was solved quicker than Blessing’s is likely due to more urgent pressing from her family.

Everard’s boyfriend contacted the police the day after she went missing after sensing something was wrong. Having spoken to him on the way home, with CCTV footage, doorbell cameras and police dashcams tracking her every move, police were able to pinpoint her accurate location and retrace her steps fairly easily.

The Guardian reports that Everard’s family have not had her cause of death officially confirmed

They had a clear pattern to follow and found her body in a large builder’s bag in Hoad’s Wood, Kent.

It would stand to reason that the police would be able to ascertain her fate, due to the large amounts of evidence at their disposal.

Unfortunately, Blessing did not have such luck. Police concluded that her cause of death was ‘inconclusive’, and post-mortem exams say that she likely died by drowning.

There was no evidence of internal or external injury, and therefore could not be treated as suspicious.

Either way, both cases were absolutely tragic.

It is, unfortunately, not too outlandish to suspect that race or class did not have roles to play in the investigations of their respective deaths but the lack of nuance and reason, combined with an increasingly divisive political climate, does not help the situation.

To say colour did not play a part in how the UK police handled Blessing Olusegun and Sarah Everard’s investigation is a naïve statement. Too many times in society, we overlook the black woman. What happened with Blessing Olusegun is a tragedy, but what is even more of a tragedy is her death was treated more of an “oh by the way, this happened” than a serious crime. It is a shame that so many of our young black women are not afforded the same minimal concern as their white counterparts.

When police found Sarah’s body in the woods, it was not a question that police would investigate further. The community was outraged because of her death, and the police did not stop investigating until they found answers. Despite Blessing’s unusual death, the police concluded there was no foul play, and it was “unexplainable.” The problem with this is there was not an extra step in investigating Blessing’s death. No one knows for sure what exactly happened with her death. The police left it as she drowned, but will not ask the why and how questions, but asked several questions in Sarah’s case. It is a known fact that people of colour, especially black women, do not get the same media attention as white women when it comes to a missing person’s case.

Blessing deserved more than just a lacklustre investigation, especially when community members demanded certain local ordinances to be changed because of Sarah’s murder. Both of these women’s lives were tragically cut short, and it is devastating to hear about both of these cases because this was a human life. However, Blessing’s family and friends deserve the same answered questions that Sarah’s family and friends received. The police should have done more on Blessing’s behalf so she could get the investigation she deserves.

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Aaron Fenton-Hewitt is an aspiring journalist and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from London Metropolitan University, and a Master's in Writing for Creative and Professional Practice from Middlesex University. He wishes to continue his academic career, with a PhD in Politics or related field.

Aaron is also a freelance photographer, an avid foodie and an Arsenal supporter.

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CheVaughn Starling is a politics contributor on scribe. Hailing all the way from the United States. Born in the Chicagoland area, Illinois (USA), and moved to Springfield, IL in 2011 to embark her new journey in life: college. She completed her undergrad and graduate degree at the University of Illinois Springfield in Political Science and Legal Studies with an emphasis on Public Policy. Her love for politics and history led her to aspire a career as a political analyst. Her specialty is in US politics and analyzing different policies from both sides of view. She hopes one day to complete her JD and PHD so she can help implement policy and change in the US.

Aaron Fenton-Hewitt and CheVaughn Starling

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