Last night, on Thursday 6 December 2018, people took to the Small City streets in their masses for the annual Reclaim the Night march.
Run as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence this year, the purpose of the march was to reiterate the fact that women should be allowed to walk anywhere, anytime. That we have just as much right to the streets as anyone else, and that we should not have to face the threat of violence looming over us for simply existing in a public space – irrespective of whether it is day or night.
Reclaim is a primarily U.K. wide movement, but marches under the Reclaim banner have taken place in other parts of the world too, from Bengaluru, India to Melbourne, Australia. It started in the 1970’s as a response to women being told not to go out at night, during the time that murders were being committed by the Yorkshire Ripper.
Marches under the Reclaim banner have taken place all over the world, from Bengaluru, India to Melbourne, Australia.
The march started from the Civic Hall at 6pm and continued down the High Street. The turn-out included everyday people, the organisers from Perth & Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership and RASAC P&K, and workers from OWLS, PACT, The Soroptimists and Perthshire Women's Aid turned out.
Speaking to Michelle at Rasac PK, she told me, "At RASAC P&K we are delighted to lead the Reclaim the Night March into its third year through Perth City. This is an empowering and safe event that looks likely to grow year on year."
"Reclaim The Night marches are held all over the world and they are about both raising awareness of sexual violence, street harassment and victim blaming and demanding an end to it."
Local singer Sophie Staniforth performed at the event, playing covers of songs written by women she highlights as strong and admirable. Speaking to me before the event, she said, “As soon as I was asked to play the event, I jumped straight in for it! I am honestly honoured to be playing for a cause that I have always fought for. I can’t wait!
“I have always been so concerned with the ongoing issues regarding rape and domestic violence against women, yet I feel so helpless. I really feel like women aren’t being taken seriously enough, having their accusations being dismissed as ‘false’, or barely having any action being put in place to bring justice for their trauma.
"More light needs to be shone on the fact that rape and violence is still a massive issue against women, and I feel we need a stronger community to encourage women to come forward about these issues.”
There was a wide range and diversity of people from all over Perth, united in action. This was something highlighted to me by a member of staff at Perthshire Women's Aid, who told me, "It's great to see such a diverse group of people come out to support women and girls' right to feel safe walking the streets."
The idea that women’s freedom should be restricted as a solution to violence continues to be challenged through Reclaim."We were touched to see that alongside people from our organisations, there were many members of the public there. It was particularly great to see men coming out as allies to support the cause."
"Young children accompanied by their parents turned out too - this is great as it teaches them too that they do have the power to say no at an early age."
All in all, Thursday’s march was a night that brought people from all walks of life in Perth together, connecting us with a global community of women and non-binary people. The idea that women’s freedom should be restricted as a solution to violence was and continues to be challenged through Reclaim the Night.
Hopefully one day we will live in a world that negates the need for events like Reclaim. Until then, with every step taken in solidarity here we will continue to march onwards, into a better future for ourselves and future generations.
Thank you to Perthshire Women's Aid for use of the pictures!
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