Over two hundred women turn out in Cambridge to 'Reclaim the Night'

Image credit: Blanca Schofield-Legorburo

On the evening of Sunday the 11th March, an estimated two hundred women from around Cambridge gathered at Parker’s Piece to Reclaim the Night. This movement symbolises women uniting to protest against walking in fear on the streets at night, against the criminalisation of sexual workers and against the propagation of victim-blaming in sexual harassment cases. More broadly, Reclaim the Night stands for women saying enough is enough.

Signs and banners made by the protesters abounded, with messages such as “Clothes are not consent” and “My Body, My Hijab, My Choice”. There was an incredible feeling of solidarity and determination. CUSU women’s officer, Lola Olufemi heightened this atmosphere with an introductory speech reminding the partakers of the need for a continuation of activism and of intersectional feminism: Reclaim the Night also means standing in solidarity with women around the world who do not have a voice and who are subjugated in ways that some of us cannot identify with because of our privileged situation. Following Lola came former women’s officers (Amelia SH, Waithera Sebatindira, Lauren Steele), all of whom emphasised how far Cambridge has come in terms of reducing sexism, thanks to the hard work of previous women’s officers and students, but how far there is still left to go, especially in terms of activism and intersectionality. Finally the incoming women’s officer, Claire Sosienski Smith, gave a speech on recognising the difficulties experienced by sex workers and the importance of standing in solidarity with them by protesting against the criminalisation of sex work, recognising their place in society and demanding equal rights for them.

The march through Cambridge then began. Chanting and singing, cheering and shouting in resolution, these women of Cambridge marched from Parker’s Piece, through the Grafton Centre and Cambridge town, past King’s College and then around Market Square. Many of those who passed by, or who the march passed by, stopped and took photos and videos and joined in with the chants of, for example, “WOMEN UNITE, RECLAIM THE NIGHT”. Some applauded and all were captured by the sight of so many women marching and protesting in unison.

The march ended with Lola giving a concluding address in Market Square, thanking the partakers for their enthusiasm and reminding them once again of the need for continued activism. Many of the protesting women then went to the vigil in King’s College Chapel, given by Sara Ahmed.

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