Hundreds join Reclaim the Night protest through Manchester

The protest left Owens Park and marched towards Oxford Road

On Tuesday, hundreds of University of Manchester students gathered to march in solidarity against gender-based violence and discrimination. The march began at Owens Park at 6:30pm led by a women’s bloc, temporarily blocking Wilmslow Road on route. The march then ended at the UoM Students’ Union building for speeches.

As wardens blocked off the road, protesters cheered and waved signs. Protesters chanted: “Women united, will never be defeated”, “yes means yes and no means no”, “our night, our right, reclaim the night” and “whose streets, our streets”.

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On the Curry Mile, non-protesters also showed their support. Cars driving past beeped their horns, people dining in restaurants came out to watch and pedestrians took out their phones to film. 

The march concluded at the University of Manchester’s Student Union, where speeches were led by SU officers. They spoke about the issues of victim blaming, violence against minorities, the vulnerability of sex workers and the need for them to be supported.

UoM SU Women’s Officer, Jas Taylor, said that this year’s campaign will go towards supporting student sex workers nationwide. They also demanded that the University of Manchester do more work to support student sex workers.

Jas told The Manchester Tab: “Feminism must always be intersectional and inclusive.

“Witnessing the violence and danger facing sex workers aggravated by hostile legislation and policing, we stand united to fight for the rights of all women and marginalised genders.

“Rape culture is terrifyingly potent and pervasive, and I hope that this year’s campaign can continue the tradition of making a stand for the wellbeing of every individual impacted by gender-based violence, empower people to reclaim our space in the night which is rightfully ours, and hold those in power accountable for this much-needed change”.

UoM SU Disabled Officer, Syd King, spoke about their experiences of assault and said we cannot ignore the risk of assault of disabled and trans and non-binary people. They also highlighted that trans and non-binary people are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The support of all of our students is a top priority for us, and we are keen to ensure that our staff are properly equipped to respond to any concerns they may have.

“To this end, we engaged the services of an external training provider to offer training to our wider support staff in Student Sex Work to Level 1, and our frontline support staff in Student Sex Work to Level 2.

“This training enables staff to provide informed advice and guidance to students in order to promote their safety and wellbeing.”

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