In pictures: Lincoln’s ‘I am part of the 97%’ event

Women across Lincoln of all ages came to tell their stories

On Saturday, March 21st, the streets of Lincoln were redecorated in a display of solidarity from survivors of sexual assault. Women of Lincoln took to the streets to write their stories on pavement slabs and raise awareness of the amount of young women who have endured sexual assault. The raising of awareness for sexual assault is no new topic, however, following the murder of Sarah Everard when she was walking home to an article by the Guardian which found that 97% of young women have experienced sexual assault many women had their say.

The event was started on Facebook and was described as a chance to show support and solidarity for women who have experienced sexual assault. The organisers described the event as “not a march or a mass gathering but simply something you can do for five minutes on your daily walk.” The idea of the event involved picking a paving slab on Lincoln’s High Street and writing in chalk “I am part of the 97%.”

The plan was to “fill as many slabs down the high street so everyone can truly see just how many of us there are.”

The Tab Lincoln asked the women of Lincoln what this event meant to them:

‘Hopefully, it’ll lead to change’

Alecia, a criminology student from the University of Lincoln said: “I’ve had so many girls message me after posting that I took part about how afraid they were to go and write their name, it’s awful that we live in a world that women are even too scared to speak out.

“I’m hoping it will leave a message loud and clear for everyone who didn’t believe it was a big issue, or ‘not all men’ and hopefully lead to more change and progression for women and their safety and for it to be taken seriously after showing just how many women it affects daily, especially after reading ages as young as eight and 12 written down.”

‘We bonded over our experiences’

Emily, a Primary Education student at BGU said: “I found it really inspiring to see so many girls being brave enough to share their stories. It’s such a great peaceful way to raise awareness. I was chatting to a few girls who were lovely and we bonded over our experiences.

“You could see people stopping to read the chalk and it’s getting people talking about it which is great.”

‘It’s so brave’

Topaz, a Sociology student at BGU thinks it is inspiring to see so many survivors “coming together and supporting one another.” “It’s so brave to tell your story, and by speaking up we’re bringing awareness to the problem which in my opinion is the first step to making change”, she said.

‘It helps to know that I’m not alone’

“The event on the high street is very important to me. It allowed me to come to terms with my own experiences and being part of the 97%. It helps to know that I’m not alone.”

‘I’ll never forget it’

“It was a moment of community, suddenly we weren’t all just a statistic anymore and our experiences all meant something. The chalk was everywhere and members of the public stopped and stared at it. It wasn’t a march and it didn’t break lockdown rules, it was our time to tell our stories. I’ll never forget it.”

‘It was freeing’

Beth, a Criminology and Sociology at the University of Lincoln said: “I went there today because I saw everyone posting about it on social media, it was weirdly freeing to be able to write something too and to contribute. Reading some of them was really sad and scary but it’s also reassuring to know that others have also experienced some of the same things regardless of what it is.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

It’s time to stop saying ‘not all men’: You are part of the problem

‘To help make women feel safer, men need to listen’: A conversation with UoL’s Feminist Society

‘It almost led me to drop out’: Lincoln students open up about sexual harassment