Two Manchester students to walk 10k in aid of Reclaim the Night

Evie and Fiona want to ‘reclaim ownership of the streets that now feel so threatening’

TW: Discussion of sexual harassment and assault

Two Manchester students, Fiona and Evie, who run radio show, Neighbourhood Fallow Girls, are walking 10k around the streets of Manchester on Saturday 20th March.

The walk is to raise money for The Pankhurst Trust (Manchester Women’s Aid) as part of the Reclaim the Night Movement.

They said: “Recently in Fallowfield there has been a surge in sexual assault and harassment. This is a personal issue for us at FNFG as we have been victims in Fallowfield ourselves. This has to stop. Make our streets safer for women.

“The Pankhurst Trust tackles gender inequality and violence against women/ girls. It includes Manchester Women’s Aid which provide support for survivors of abuse, including emergency refuge accommodation.”

The students have collected banner making kits and have offered to drop them off in the Fallowfield area in preparation for the walk. They were also handing them out earlier at the university’s student union.

Evie told The Manchester Tab:  “The events of the past week have weighed heavy on all the women and female-presenting people I know. I think we all felt that every one of us could be Sarah – we’ve all been followed, approached, catcalled or assaulted – and the list just goes on. Messages pop up sometimes daily on MSG, stories of horrific events ongoing in Fallowfield.

“When I was assaulted in December outside my house in Fallow, I was afraid to go out alone at all, even in daylight. We’re doing this walk to reclaim our streets, to reclaim the place we call home. We don’t want to be chaperoned anymore and no one should have to fear for their lives when they step out the front door.

“Reclaim the Night UK began in response to the Yorkshire Ripper in 1977 – if we take a long hard look at society has anything really changed since then? The Tories’ latest crime bill didn’t make street sexual harassment a crime, and didn’t even include the word woman once. This is simply not good enough – we demand recognition and we demand change.”

Fiona said: “Tackling street sexual harassment/assault should be super important to all women as all have experienced it in some form and the issue seems increasingly prevalent in fallowfield. Catcalling is a daily occurrence around Fallowfield these days but unfortunately Evie and I were victim to a more serious recent attack. We were followed home from a friends house and Evie was sexually assaulted outside our front door. I was so angry because we walked home together, so we were supposed to be safe.

“In our situation, the police took our report seriously. The guy was responsible for multiple attacks in the Fallow area and caught that evening whilst we were still with the police.

“It felt like this attack had taken away our freedom and I couldn’t have expected the psychological impact to be so strong. It happened so close to home that every trip out induced so much anxiety. Every time a man cat calls us or passes close by in the street I can’t help but think the worst.

“I wanted to organise this walk to reclaim ownership of the streets that now feel so threatening. Every woman deserves to be safe. Following the death of Sarah Everard, alongside the Reclaim the Night campaign, this seems like the time to incite change. I wanted to use this platform to share our experiences and raise money for The Pankhurst Trust, which includes Manchester Women’s Aid, to help victims of abuse and assault because no woman deserves to be unsafe.”

The students have set up a JustGiving page for their 10k walk on Saturday, with a target of £200 to which you can donate to here.

Feature image credit to: @neighbourhoodfallowgirls

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