We went to Bristol’s biggest feminist protest – Reclaim The Night

I love a good protest

Reclaim The Night is the biggest protest in the student calendar. From placards to angry chanting, believe you me it never fails to disappoint.

Reclaim The Night is an annual event in cities across the country that marches against all violence against women and those with complex gender identities. From street harassment to rape, people from all over the city come together to march and protest against that fact that these things are still a part of the experience of those of us who have or do experience gender based violence.

But don’t let that put you off, despite what you might think it is actually a really uplifting and enjoyable event. Some people even brought their kids along!

Before the march I spoke to Hannah Dualeh, who is the current Equality, Liberation and Access Officer at Bristol University about why Reclaim the night is so important:

“So reclaim the night is important for many reasons, the main theme of the night is to raise awareness around the theme of violence towards individuals of a specific gender or gender identities and to not only raise awareness but to highlight that these issues still exist.”

“So for example the mass increase in Islamaphobic hate crimes that happened post Brexit that have been spiralling basically since the beginning of 2010. And this disproportionately faces Muslim women. So it is basically to illuminate a whole range of violence that happens to women, and also non-binary and trans women and for that to be recognised.”

Darcy Ramsden, the Women’s officer added that:

“The theme of empowerment again is important for me and is probably very important for the survivors that are attending tonight. Because as it’s an ongoing issue, it’s not the kind of thing that will end today. This will continue and it hopefully will give people the know how and the knowledge that when this happens to them or a friend they will know what to do, they will know who to go to, they know what the resources are to help them heal and so they know it’s never ok, it’s never their fault. Nobody asks for this, it’s to put and end to victim blaming and also people blaming themselves.”

The march itself was as loud and enthusiastic as ever, we got cheered on by many onlookers, as well as being beeped by multiple commuters: (although I am not sure if that was because we were blocking the road or in support of the march) – several hundred people walking up Park Street does tend to have that effect.

One particular highlight involved two rather large police vans driving through the centre of the march. I am happy to report that no marchers were flattened in the process, although several cars did appear to make an attempt in their anxiety to get through.

As always, it ended at the Students’ Union, where there was spoken word poetry, stands for the various organisations involved with the event, and even an accapella performance.

It is rare to find this kind of energised solidarity. Because the night is for everyone, we all should feel safe on our streets. And that is worth fighting for.