Over 100 participants in Cardiff’s ‘Reclaim These Streets’ online vigil

“We have to keep this energy going”

A ‘Reclaim These Streets’ vigil was meant to be held at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay at 6pm on Saturday (13th of March) but was moved online due to lockdown restrictions.

Following the disappearance of Sarah Everard, several vigils are being held across the country. The one organised in Cardiff by Henri Page and Becky Louise had almost 1000 people interested, and was then moved to be an online event.

While some people did show up outside the Welsh parliament, over 100 people turned up for the zoom where personal experiences, as well as information about work that different organisations provide, were shared either in the chatbox or as part of a speech. There were seven speakers in total: Harriet, Caitlin, Ellie, Rachel, Venice, Shameem, and Rebs.

One of the speakers, Rebs Fisher-Jackson, told The Cardiff Tab that she was talking to her friends about how scary Cardiff had become: “Every week, there were more and more Facebook posts from women who had been followed home and harassed. At the time, even though I’d spent my life walking home with my keys between my knuckles, I never thought something bad would happen to me ‘if I followed the rules’”.

She went on to say that she spoke at the vigil because what happened to Sarah Everard has shown us that there aren’t any rules to ‘follow’ and that it isn’t normal to fear walking home after work: “I am so fed up of feeling scared inside my own home and for the other women in my life.”

During the Zoom event, Rebs shared a personal experience of when she and her fiancée were stalked by a random man who used to watch them through their window and masturbate. They blocked his path with bins, covered the windows with cardboard, reported him to South Wales Police, and provided security footage and evidence. The man, who had allegedly sexually harassed other women before, was able to flee the country: “They (the police) did nothing but joke about it.”

Another speaker, Harriet, told The Cardiff Tab that she hopes that everyone, “keeps this energy and keep creating these spaces in Cardiff.”

“How long have we been calling for change? How many women over centuries have taken to the streets to fight for their own safety?” She added that it wasn’t just reclaiming the streets, since women aren’t safe anywhere.

During the vigil, while some of the speakers were sharing their stories and many others were using the chat box to share experiences and support, there were also comments from people making light of the situation – arguably showing why this event is so needed.

One of the participants told The Cardiff Tab that she felt disgusted by the comments: “How pathetic do you have to be to troll a vigil?”

“We have to keep fighting for change, and we have to make this moment a movement. For all the women who fought before us. For all the women who are no longer with us. For all the women who have a story.”

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