Campaigners from both within and outside the University of Nottingham formed a Reclaim the Night group last night and marched on Old Market Square to take collective action against rape and male sexual violence against women.
The organiser, Zaimal Azad, from the Nottingham Feminist Action Network, expressed in a speech that “women have the right to be free from fear and free from violence in our homes and workplaces”
The ‘Reclaim the Night’ marches, founded in 1977 in Leeds were originally inspired by women-only ‘Take Back the Night’ marches against sexual harassment, held across towns and cities in West Germany.
In 2010 the National Union of Students Women’s campaign published a report called Hidden Marks showing that one in seven women students had experienced serious physical or sexual assault at university. Many who didn’t report the crime stated they didn’t think what had happened would be taken seriously, or that they were too ashamed and embarrassed.
With a turnout of around 100 women, Fran Cowling, aged 25, who hosted the march told Impact that she believes that “Reclaim the Night Marches are especially important for students. Nottingham city has a large student population…and for some women students this has become almost an ‘everyday’ phenomenon.”
Cowling also highlighted the significance of a ‘women only’ march, stating that it allowed women to feel more “empowered”
Co-founder of the University of Nottingham (UoN) Feminists group Jo Estrin, commented that “I think it’s really important for women to show a united front in a situation where we’re often stripped of control, it just feels nice to shout our message when so often it’s not spoken about”
Molly Crozier, a UoN student who attended the protest, stated that “It’s about highlighting the issue rather than achieving anything in specific. Protests like this in Nottingham have led to these issues being a priority for local council and local police”
The UoN Students’ Union’s Women’s Officers, Nina Humphries and Krishna Shah, said “The violence that women suffer today at the hands of men is unacceptable. Women should be able to walk streets safely”