Last night I marched with over 100 women for Oxford’s Reclaim the Night event.
Reclaim the Night is an event which happens around the UK each year. The purpose of RTN is for women to march through the streets of their own city protesting the fear of real violence, sexual harassment and rape women face daily.
We started the evening with a rally at Modern Art Oxford where we heard from three speakers. Lisa Ward, co-organizer of RTN and director of OSARCC (Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre) spoke about the endemic prevalence of sexual violence and rape and how it disproportionately affects women. We then heard from Fatou, the Women’s Coordinator at refugee Resource, she spoke about the sexual violence refugees face and how we all have an obligation to look after the most vulnerable. Finally, Kaddy from Oxford Against Cutting addressed the crowd, she relayed the horror so many girls and women have gone through because of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and she urged us to look out for people who may be at risk. We then marched through the streets of Oxford holding signs and megaphones. Our passion was in abundance as we sang out chants like ‘Hey, ho, sexual violence has to go’ in to the cold night air. We received lots of remarks of solidarity and applause, which was very affirming. We ended our march at the East Oxford Community Centre where we gathered to celebrate the achievements of women and the strength of survivors. We heard from The Young Women’s Music Project and Death of the Maiden, both of which supplied us with excellent music. We also had the privilege of hearing from some survivors who read their poetry out to us.
The whole event was wonderful to be a part of. To be around so many strong women was inspiring and reminded me of the reasons why I love my job. It was also a wonderful opportunity for both students and the community to come together with people of all ages, including a baby! I can’t wait to channel the rage and enthusiasm I generated at this event in to more work at the SU.