“Reclaim the Night”: Women marching for safer streets

The Bristol Student Union’s Women’s Network is hosting a march to demand a safer environment for women on Bristol’s streets at night.

The national movement “Reclaim the Night” is meant to raise awareness of women’s safety and challenge the culture of victim blaming.

Katherine Martin, head of the women’s equality party said: “It is important to raise awareness with events like this. We need to keep talking about this issue, if we want to see change.”

According to Bristol University research, 60 percent of women in the UK feel unsafe at night, compared to 10 percent of men. It is estimated that 43.000 women will experience sexual violence or assault in Bristol.

Katherine Martin said: “It is very rare to meet a woman who hasn’t at least had some comments thrown at her that make her feel uncomfortable and a lot of women go through a lot worse than that.”

“I think, the main thing we need to do is for women to have a political voice. That’s why I, personally, joined the Women’s Equality Party because until we have equal say, things are not likely going to change.”

“Reclaim the Night” initially started 40 years ago, as a response to victim blaming. During the Yorkshire Ripper Case, when Peter Sutcliffe was attacking women, police told women to avoid the streets.

Women reacted to the police by marching and taking back the streets for themselves.

Women's March. Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter
Women’s March. Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter

“Not much has changed. These things still happen today”, said Martin.

Chloe Lake, chair of the women’s network at the University of Bristol, said: “Harassment and violence towards women has always been a prevalent issue, but especially in 2018 when the me too movement is coming out, I think it’s becoming more prevalent with everything that is going on.”

“It shouldn’t be like that. We should be able to walk the streets at night and feel comfortable.”

The march starts on Queen’s Square at 7pm today, heading towards the Richmond Building.

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