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Last Monday, saw 300 women, and one very brave small child take to the cold, windy streets of Cambridge to participate in the city’s own version of the nation-wide anti-rape march Reclaim the Night. HollabackLDN’s Julia went up to give a talk at King’s Chapel where the women, joined by the men’s solidarity march wound up and reflected on the progress made, and the fight we still need to fight.
The UK incarnation of Reclaim the Night first came into existence when, during the sex attacks by the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ Peter Sutcliffe in and around Leeds in 1977, the police response-issued only after the first non sex-worker victim was claimed-was to implement a curfew for women to ‘keep them safe’. Women took to the streets to fight for their right to walk their own streets and challenge the still accepted social construct which posits that women are responsible for not getting themselves raped, as oppose to men are responsible for not raping. Thirty-five years later, little has changed but we are still making our voices heard.
Read this great article on the event by Lauren Steele for the Cambridge Students paper here
So last week we walked with the 7th annual Reclaim the Night march. For those who don’t know, its an anti-rape march which allows women not only to walk their own streets safely at night but to protest against rape, to fight for safety and for equality and to have their voices heard.
‘According to the British Crime Survey (2001) there are an estimated 47,000 rapes every year, around 40,000 attempted rapes and over 300,000 sexual assaults. Yet our conviction rate is the lowest it has ever been, one of the lowest in Europe, at only 5.3%. This means that more rapists were convicted in the 1970s when Reclaim The Night marches first started than they are now. Did you know that the maximum sentence possible for rape is life imprisonment? Probably not, because rarely are rapists even reported or convicted, let alone with a realistic sentence. This situation has to change.
We march to demand justice for rape survivors.’
Read more about Reclaim the Night here.
HollabackLDN at RTN
It was HollabackLDN’s first time at Reclaim the Night and we all found it amazingly uplifting and inspiring. The 2000 women who marched with us were so positive and strong and the range of ages and cultures there was incredible. Our amazing friend Hannah Whitfield made us a very cool banner which received much praise. Our favourite bits were when we walked down the quieter streets and people were leaning out of their windows to shout their support or joining in the march or when men walked along side, fists in the air, to show their support. The march ended with a rally at the Camden Centre in Euston where there were a number of very eye-opening talks given by women such as Olivia Bailey the National Women’s Officer for the NUS, and speakers from organisations including Southall Black Sisters and Rape Crisis .
We were really inspired by the work done by the women we encountered at Reclaim the Night and were really grateful for all the support people offered to HollabackLDN and our zine Langdon Olgar of which we sold a bunch of copies so thanks to those who bought one. It was a really amazing thing to be a part of and we felt very proud. Being there really brought home how much work there is to be done. Its overwhelming because we, as women fighting for equality, still have a long long road ahead of us, and its kind of scary, but we have had nothing but support since we started and there is no way we’re going to give up. (more…)