Grab your paintbrushes, your friends and your best feminist chants, as on the 20th February women across Manchester are marching from Owen’s Park to the Students Union to ‘Reclaim the Night’.
For those unfamiliar with the cause, Reclaim the Night is about making noise and making our presence known. It’s about challenging a culture of complacency and complicity. It’s about claiming the streets that have never been ours. Claiming our right to exist not just without fear, but with full liberation.
One in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 16 and one in three teenage girls have experienced some form of sexual violence from a partner. Place epidemic levels of violence against women in the context of an austerity programme that has caused 1 in 2 women to be turned away from domestic violence refuge and caused rape crisis centres to be shut and what we are left with is a country that not only silences women, but kills them too.
Women’s lives are marked by violence from an early age and, to add insult to injury, women are not believed. Our victimhood is framed as hysterical, irrational, or oversensitive. A “culture of suspicion” remains within the police, even amongst those who are specialists in rape investigations. As one Home Office report found, specialists in rape investigations do not trust survivors, and believe the proportion of false claims to be much higher than it is in reality. It is our right to feel safe wherever we are and it is a right that is owed to us. Our silence is required for the patriarchy to thrive. Tough law and order and punitive justice won’t save us, so, we make noise and we march – we reclaim the night.
The patriarchy and its agents long for women to accept violence and shame as their reality. Eradicating gender-based violence seems unachievable when we struggle to even make our voices heard. An end to shame and violence is difficult, and it may prove to be a long fight. But in the words of Angela Davis: “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world.”
March because a crime against one woman is a crime against us all. March because our lives depend on it. March because our liberation is long overdue. March because it is impossible, and that is exactly why it is necessary.
Reclaim the Night will be marching from Owen’s Park to the Student’s Union on Thursday the 20th of February 2020. For more information search Reclaim the Night 2020 on Facebook.