Last week my university had a march down one of the main roads in Manchester city centre called Reclaim the Night. The point of it was to raise awareness about rape culture and show the government that us women will not stand for it. The march had particular relevance as sadly the area of Manchester most students live in, including myself has had a record number of sexual attacks on female students in the last few months. Between September and November alone there were 30 attacks and since the beginning of this semester I have heard of at least two more; one of which occurred at eleven thirty in the morning. Shattering the argument of the ignorant that women shouldn’t travel alone at night. This means within the last year the number has doubled and something clearly needs to be done about it.
This is why Reclaim the Night was so important. With over 2000 people marching, armed with glow sticks, placards and yelling feminist chants, the people of Manchester were made well and truly aware that all of womenkind (and the men that attended) wanted their streets to be safe to walk along at all times of day. And that being a women should not increase your likeliness of being raped. My university’s women’s officer rightly described the march as being “like a battleground” and she is right, just saying you are a feminist is unfortunately no longer that effective, we have to harness that and go out there and make a change. All around the world women are being persecuted and we need to be louder about it. For too long women have been cast aside and not listened to, but Manchester’s Reclaim the Night proved this idea wrong. We are here, we exist, we have rights and we will not tolerate being under threat.
I hope that due to the success of this march that there be others that follow to raise awareness on other feminist issues occurring around the world, such as the practice of FGM, young girls being forced into marriages and the lack of rights for trans women. I am incredibly proud of my city and university and I hope it has shown the men who committed these terrible crimes that they are not wanted in society and are a disgrace to their gender. I also hope by writing this piece, women from other countries will gain inspiration to hold similar marches at their university or college to show the world that we are strong and want change now.