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400 people attend Reclaim the Night March in Birmingham on IWD

Birmingham students took a stand against sexual assault on Broad Street this Friday

As many of you would have heard, Friday 8th March was International Women’s Day. In light of this, UoB students and members of the public made it clear that this was more than just a day to post cute photos of your mum tell your friends how much you love them. In honouring the day in true activist style, hundreds turned out to ‘Reclaim the Night’ in protest and gave a voice to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, and came out in solidarity to rise against the fear of such abuses on a day to day basis.

The march, organised by the UoB Guild of Students’ women officers in collaboration with the GMB trade union, showed significant frustration and anger at the risk levels of being victimised by domestic violence and sexual assault. The march attracted 1.2k interest and approx. 378 attended.

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Students with various slogans

With a strong determination to raise awareness and give survivors and women a voice, attendees shouted empowering chants and carried placards facing messages against sexual harassment, showing enough really is enough. Calls and response such as “What do we want? Safe streets! When do we want it? Now!launched the crowd into reclaiming control over Broad Street, one of Birmingham’s busiest streets and received attention from those inside bars and clubs as well as pedestrians and drivers passing by who displayed their approval and solidarity also.

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Kate stewarding the march

“The march was such a strong and inspiring moment of comradeship, especially on International Women’s Day.” Saskia, second year student

Ellie, another student described it as “A wonderful moment of solidarity between so many people of different walks of life."

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Second year students with placards

Protesters called for an end to cuts in rape crisis and to victim blaming; an unfortunate common cultural practice, with the use of a 17-year-old girl's black lace underwear being used as evidence against a rape allegation in an Irish court, as recently as November of last year.

In the midst of progressing towards gender equality, the powerful student presence at the march was a necessary reminder of the importance of justice for survivors, the tradition of the political student, as well as standing up against the basic desire to feel safe from assault on our own streets.