We caught up with Jas Taylor, your SU Women’s officer, to talk about the importance of accessibility within protests, the focus on sex workers for this year’s 45th Anniversary of the Reclaim the Night March and how we can further educate ourselves on issues surrounding intersectionality and inclusivity.
Jas spoke about the importance of students of any background, gender, ability and sexuality attending the protest to show solidarity with those who feel unsafe at night. Reclaim the Night will start at Owens’ Park at 6:30 pm on the 22nd March and you will be able to choose with bloc you walk in, whether it be the Mixed Bloc, the Liberation bloc or the Women and Non-binary bloc which will lead the march.
The main focus for Reclaim the Night is to make sure marginalised groups are heard and understood, Jas spoke about wanting there to be more holistic approaches to benefit rather than endanger those who are often underrepresented in the media. We spoke more about how past protests like Kill the Bill had had negatively affected a person’s right to protest with threats of removing disabled people’s benefits if caught protesting. Threats like this contribute to the damaging and exclusionary experience of disabled people being left out of activism.
To combat this, the Reclaim the Night march will have a fully accessible map including sheltered spaces for access breaks, a separate entrance on return to the SU for the rally, fully trained stewards working throughout the march and quiet spaces. Since Jas and Syd, two of the speakers at the rally, are both disabled therefore accessibility is a main priority.
Your Women’s officer has spoken on two panels centred around sex workers in Manchester, both attempting to normalise sex work and to answer any questions students had. Jas spoke alongside Syd King, Chair of the UoM Disabled Society about why sex work is on the rise, the intersectional barriers and the stigma attached to working in the sex industry. Jas quoted that pre-pandemic approximately 3% of students were sex workers but this has risen due to limited means of income post-pandemic Jas told us.
We touched on how some of the educational resources put out for those in sex work had been criticised for encouraging people to choose to go into sex work.
I asked Jas how students can educate themselves on these issues, their response was to diversify their newsfeeds and follow new accounts on social media which may not relate to your needs but allow you to see into other people’s lives. Often we can be echo chambered in our personal spheres and it is important to integrate ourselves into lifestyles that are marginalised. Some accounts Jas recommended:
@ecp_org – English Collective of Prostitutes
Jas will be leaving the position of Women’s Officer next month but refused to comment when questioned about their decision to leave.