Reclaim the Night: Marching in solidarity

People march for the annual ‘Reclaim the Night’ campaign against sexual violence and rape

Content warning: mention of sexual assault, transphobia, murder

Reclaim the Night is an annual march that has run for many years organised by the Women’s Campaign. This year’s march took place on the 14th of March. The campaign is open to students and members of the public alike, offering a safe space for women and non-binary people to march against sexual violence and rape.

The march has a long history, with roots in the 70s in cities such as Leeds and London, where the campaign was started in response to the murders of sex workers and students in the local area. Women later took to the streets to protest the advice that was given to them by the police, which was to stay at home and to not go out at night for “their own safety”. This has since transformed into a march that takes place every year, where self identifying women and gender non-conforming people can come together to march for each other in solidarity.

The march

The march began on Parker’s Piece, with speeches from many different members of the local community. Many participants of the march carried signs with slogans.

The march ran through Cambridge city centre (Image credits: Phoebe Collins)

Sophie, a spokesperson from Trans Liberation Cambridge, urged everyone to consider the importance of intersectional solidarity and highlighted the brutality with which trans people have been recently faced.

Sophie mentioned the recent murder of of young trans woman Briana Ghey, and suspected suicide of 23-year old trans woman Eden Knight. Sophie then said: “Our fight is the same fight. Our goals are the same. We all want our rights presented. We all want to feel safe and we all want to be free of the same oppressors. If we are to survive and if we are to win this fight, we must stand as one.”

Eseosa Akojie, the SU’s Women’s Officer (Image credits: Phoebe Collins)

Eseosa, the Women’s Officer for the Cambridge Student Union, emphasised the importance of the history of sex workers within the history of the march, saying: “Sex workers and trans people are part of this movement, and sex workers especially, should be centred in it, considering like it is from them that this movement started.”

After a few more speeches, the group gathered and made their way past the Anglia Ruskin Campus and back towards the centre of Cambridge, shouting a variety of chants ranging from: “Hey (Hey), Ho (Ho), Sexual Violence has to go!” and “Say it once, say it again, no excuse for violent men!”. The march continued peacefully, with the exception of one member of the public, who yelled at the participants of the march in an aggressive manner. The marchers did not let this deter them and showed remarkable solidarity in the face of a scary situation.

Interview with the Gender Equalities Officer at King’s

After the march, The Tab spoke to the Gender Equalities Officer at King’s College. Ash Hewett emphasised the importance of marches like these, stating: ” There’s always strength in numbers and it’s really important to show solidarity on these issues. And like you said, intersectional feminism is incredibly important. So when you march for women’s rights, you’re also marching for gender minorities rights. You’re marching for women of colour.  You’re marching for trans women.”

The Reclaim the Night Marches have in the past received criticism for being a place that excludes men and Ash had the following to say on the subject: “Allyship is incredibly important to movement and I think that there is there are plenty of chances for men.

“To show that allyship, whether it’s voting for a party that they know will support women, whether it’s keeping their female friends safe, whether it’s pulling up their friends when they have banter about potential, sexism or misogyny or sexual violence. But I think that men just need to realise that the voices that should be amplified in this struggle are women’s and gender minorities” 

They continued: “As much as their allyship is significant, they also have to realise that men can make a lot of gender minorities feel unsafe, no matter how good their intentions are.”

Featured image credits: Phoebe Collins