Reclaim the Night is returning to Manchester on 21st February. The yearly march aims to improve the safety of women at night, especially in the Fallowfield, Rusholme, and Withington areas.
Beginning at 6pm outside Owen’s Park, the march will travel down Oxford Road to the Students’ Union (SU) where a rally will take place in the SU courtyard, followed by an after party in Club Academy and Black Milk.
Research has shown that reported cases of sexual harassment has risen by 64% since 2016 and there has been a 75% rise in cases of stalking and harassment since 2016.
However, at the same time, police officers have been cut by 23% and in 2017 the council closed down the Serious Sexual Offences Unit, removing 74 officers from the unit.
SU Women’s Officer, Sara Heddi, told The Mancunion: “[The] ‘Enough is enough’” movement makes it clear “we want safer streets and we want it now”.
This year, the Union have “specific objectives […] we are marching directly on the council with bigger demands for a bigger investment in safer streets.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has been called on to tackle the violence and fear faced by women in the city. From addressing day-to-day issues such as bad street lighting and lack of police presence, to increasing women’s safety on a deeper level. This includes stopping the cuts to women’s shelters, encouraging more organisations to become hate crime reporting centres, and awareness of where victims can report acts of harassment.
The march started in 1977 and is becoming more nuanced. It keeps its core message strong – women should feel safe at night, but it also adapts to address current feminist issues such as inclusivity. Previously a pro-choice block to support those who chose to use the medical facilities in Fallowfield as there had been anti-abortion protesters outside the clinic. A ‘Muslim block’ was also introduced by Saffa Mir to support the marginalised group.
The organisers urge everyone to march, write letters to councillors, and sign their petition which can be found on their Facebook event.