Women in Cambridge step out to reclaim the night

Sandy Rushton 18 February 2014

At 7.30 pm this evening, over 100 Cambridge women gathered on Parker’s Piece as part of Reclaim the Night: an annual, nationwide demonstration against rape and all forms of violence against women. The group was festooned with banners and signs reading “women unite”, “stop the violence” and “no means no”.

The demonstration began with speeches from representatives of the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre, Anglia Ruskin University, and CUSU. Sammi Whitaker, founding member of the ARU Feminist Society, made an impassioned speech saying that “enough is enough” and that women should “be angry, be very angry” but “also show our love”.

The crowd of women marched through the town centre, repeating “whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no” and “two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the hate”. Pedestrians and cyclists stopped to listen and photograph the chanting crowd of women.

CUSU Women’s Officer Lauren Steele, one of the organisers of the event, told The Cambridge Student “All over the world, women are taught to be scared of the night, Reclaim the Night is important because it’s about a politics of space. It lets women take over the streets that they’ve been told are something to fear, and to build powerful solidarity out of that experience”.

Alongside the main Reclaim the Night march, a group of male supporters met at the Round Church to show their solidarity. After sharing impromptu speeches about their own experiences, they marched to meet the women’s demonstration outside Senate House. The larger group then moved to King’s College Chapel where a vigil of reflection and remembrance of victims of sexual violence took place.

Newnham Women's Officer Sarah Garland explained to TCS that "women are disproportionately faced with sexual violence and harassment from day to day, and Reclaim the Night is a really empowering way to come together and stand against it. We march to call for justice for survivors of sexual violence, and to protest against the fact that anyone should have that experience at all". 

First year Jinan Younis attended Cambridge’s Reclaim the Night for the first time this evening. She expressed her belief that “the event was a powerful show of solidarity with women fighting worldwide for their right not to be violated on the streets”. Another first year Lily Rosengard described the event as "a very special night to be remembered in Cambridge history".