Women March Alone

Cambridge women march to demand safer streets.

cusu women's campaign march reclaim the night

Last night, the women of Cambridge took to the streets to march against street violence and harassment. They paraded from Parker’s Piece to King’s Chapel, where there was a candle-lit vigil.  For the first time ever, the event was jointly organised by the Anglia Ruskin Student Union and the Cambridge University Women’s Campaign.

Students prepare on Parker’s Piece

A men’s solidarity demonstration took place outside Great St Mary’s Church, and the men joined the vigil. The decision to make the march female-only sparked debate on the Facebook event, as one man posted: “Way to exclude male feminists from the process. You guys sure do know how to make friends. Pathetic.”

The candle-lit vigil

Susy, CUSU Women’s Officer, clarified the decision: “Reclaim the Night marches have the proud tradition of being for self-defining women only (trans women and kids welcome), in order to challenge the status quo in which women are often told they should be chaperoned by men when they go out at night.”

Susy proudly pointed out the lighting recently installed on Parker’s Piece, for which the CUSU Women’s Campaign have been campaigning over the past four years. At the candle-lit vigil, Natalie Szarek, a previous CUSU Women’s officer, called for the Women’s Campaign to have greater ambitions.

In her speech, Szarek said: ‘’In 2009, the march focused very much on street lighting…street lighting is very important to campaign on, but I feel that ‘Reclaim the Night’ needs a much bigger vision than that – it needs a more bold vision, even a more angry vision. Because it’s not street lighting that makes people safe…it’s not the lack of street lighting that makes women unsafe. It’s the culture of gendered violence which places the responsibility on the women to avoid that violence by not walking home alone, by not going out at night, by not drinking, by not wearing a short skirt…It’s that culture that we need to fight. So ‘Reclaim the Night’ needs to reject the idea that women would be safer if only we had street lights.”