On 2 March we will be Reclaiming the Night with our march through Norwich.
Does the Night Need Taking Back?
‘Reclaim’ or ‘Take Back the Night’ events first began in response to violent crimes against women, notably the murder of American student Susan Alexander Speeth in 1975 and the murder of sex workers by the “Yorkshire Ripper” in 1975-1980.
The police response to these crimes was to warn women not to go out at night alone. The night became a dangerous place for women, and it became normal for women to accompany each other to public toilets when out at night, walk home together, and phone each other when they got home.
This fear isn’t contained to the 1970s. In the past few years, Norwich Police announced a campaign to tackle sexual violence, ‘Time to Stop’. This campaign primarily focused on giving women handy tips on how to stay safe on a night out – such as knowing your limits, sticking with friends, and planning your journey home. I believe this problematic as it places the responsibility for an attack onto women, not on potential perpetrators.
This just seems to suggest that it's the friends of people who are responsible for their saftey
Again, this just suggests that it is the responsibilty of women to make sure that they don't end up by themselves
By focussing on potential victims rather than potential perpetrators, these campaigns promote victim blaming – women are called ‘irresponsible’ if they drink, if they stay out late, if they wear revealing clothing. We need more approaches that are focused on educating people about consent and what is and isn’t sexual harassment.
The aim of 'Never OK' is to educate students about what is and what isn't sexual harassment. It places the responsibility on to potential perpetrators, not potential victims.
In one of the most gut-wrenching details from the high-profile 2016 Brock Turner rape case, the sister of the victim apologised for leaving the victim alone at a party – as if the problematic action that evening was leaving the victim alone, not the actual rape.
These are just examples of a few key incidents – there are many more. 1 in 4 women in the UK experience rape, domestic assault and stalking during their lifetime.
All of these contribute to the general culture of fear which sees women afraid to go out by themselves at night. We talk about reclaiming because the night has been taken from us by the fear – even expectation – of assault.
Reclaim the Night Norwich – 2 March
On 2 March we will be marching through the streets of Norwich to send a statement to the community that everyone is entitled to feel safe at night.
The night will begin with a poetry event organised by UEA Pride and UEA Migrant Solidarity Campaign at the Owl Sanctuary.
We also have guest speakers attending, who include
- Marion Mazwell, the Lord Mayor of Norwich
- Hareem Ghani, the NUS Women’s Officer
- Helen Burrows, a spokesperson from Leeway, a local Domestic Abuse Charity
We’ll then march through the city. Bring your placards, whistles and best protest voices.
The night will end at FLAUNT (who are giving us free entry) at 9.30pm.
Register your interest on the uea.su website, and join the Facebook event. We’ll see you on the streets.