Reclaim The Night


Gender Agenda

Gender Agenda

Issue 1 Lent 2003

The magazine of

Women's Union

Reclaim the Night

Imogen Osborn

Last November saw a fabulous Reclaim The Night demo in Cambridge – but
what’s RTN all about?

One in ten women experience sexual assault in their lifetime, and we
cannot deny that women experience fear when walking through streets at
night. RTN’s aim is to protest peacefully about violence against women
and children and to promote women’s strength. It rejects beliefs that
women should have to be careful of what they wear or who they speak to,
and that they should not walk alone at night. Everyone has the right to
walk through the streets freely and without being afraid. Not only is
safety on the streets an issue; so are all forms of women’s public space,
for example in the workplace. Encouraging a wider community response to
violence is another way RTN aims to create a society which is safer for
women and children.

The first RTN demo was in Rome in 1976, in response to an increase in
rapes. Ten thousand women and children marched. Leeds women started the
marches in England in response to the “Ripper” murders in 1977, with
demonstrations occurring simultaneously in eleven towns, including
Manchester and London. Since then, the movement has spread to Ireland,
India, Canada, the US, Germany, Holland and Australia.

RTN acknowledges that violence is a complex issue and that women can be
violent. The organisation sees violence as institutionalised within
legal, medical, and government institutions and private enterprise. Some
marches, including the last Cambridge one, are women-only events, not so
as to exclude men, but so as to be inclusive of women in their personal
space. It represents a rejection of the images so often still portrayed
in the media of men owning the major share of property, physical strength
and power. However, it is important to give men an opportunity to express
their support, contributing to social change and community response.

There will shortly be another Cambridge Reclaim the Night demo – so get
inv olved! This time it is open to everyone, not just women. Contact
Tigger on
or come to a meeting on Jan 18th at 2pm in the Munby Room, Kings.



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