What does Reclaim the Night look like around the world?
By Archie Earle
TW: Sexual Assault and Violence
Reclaim the night is back in full force on Tuesday March 22 after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The march originated across in Leeds back in 1977, who took inspiration from women’s marches on sexual harassment in Berlin, and carried on through to the 90’s when marches generally stopped. Reclaim was again revived in 2004, but the impact of the movement across the world is overlooked. At The Mancunion we’ve taken a look at where the movement is happening now and what it means in these countries.
It was America who probably had the largest reclaim events outside of the UK. In 1978, women from over 50 states in America marched in San Francisco, with the total of those marching up to 5000. The march was held through the red-light district of the city to highlight the abusive situations that sex workers faced in the city and globally, but also to fight the everyday sexism and violence that women in these countries now face.
In response to the horrific 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder a ‘take back the night’ event took place. The march swept the nation and involved women from over 20 cities. The demands included the right to safe public spaces in India for Women and an end to the danger women in India face of sexual violence. The campaign was effective on social media and the trend of #IWillGoOut took over the country’s social media.
One of the organisers of the event, Bhani Rachel stated its aims, saying: “Although our demands are different from those marching in other cities across the world on Saturday, we stand in solidarity with our sisters, as we are all fighting against the same things – misogyny and patriarchy.”
Probably the least expected of the countries on this list Slovenia. In November 2017, in the Solvenian capital of Ljubljana, a Reclaim the Night protest was organised to “drive sexism out of the city” as the organiser said. On why they thought the march was necessary the organisers said: ‘”Gathering’ Our Night is a struggle of women around the world, who together say No to domestic violence, abuse and rape of all forms of violence based on gender discrimination. Let’s take the streets together – the night is ours!’”
Australia caught the original wave of reclaim the night, much like America. In 1978 marches first took place in Perth and Sydney, with Melbourne carrying the trend in the following year. The march was originally organised by volunteers connected to Melbourne’s first Rape Crisis Centre, evolving to include more general male violence more generally.
In 2010 a national plan was released by Reclaim the Night Australia to look at how sexual violence could be reduced in the country, with points that would work with law enforcement and local communities.
The effects of reclaim the night are plain to see and its causes clearly affect women all over the world. You can find out how to get involved locally or nationally at: www.reclaimthenight.co.uk