This Saturday hundreds of women will be taking to the streets to ‘Reclaim the Night’. The women will be marching through Leeds city centre asserting women’s right to feel free from the fear of rape and male violence in any form.
‘Reclaim The Night’ has a long tradition in Leeds, with the first British marches held in the city in the 1970s.
Helen Collins, Director of the abuse and rape awareness charity Women’s Health Matters, told to Leeds Student: “We’re hoping that this year will be bigger and better than ever, with a new route and great speakers. ‘Reclaim The Night’ has rarely been more important for Leeds at the moment, with so many issues around sexual abuse and abuses of power in the news recently.”
The 2010 British Crime Survey estimates that over 85,000 rapes take place each year in England and Wales, over 90 per cent of which have female victims. Yet the UK’s conviction rate for rape is the lowest it has ever been, with only 5.3 per cent of reported rapes resulting in a conviction. Georgie Baker, a second year Geography student, said, “The unfortunate truth is that women are confronted every day by sexual objectification, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. We cannot claim to live in an equal society.”
Reclaim the Night Leeds will begin on Saturday December 1 with a drop in session from 2:30-5pm at Leeds Met Students’ Union. From 6pm, women will gather outside Leeds Art Gallery and at 6.30pm women will begin the march around Leeds City Centre.
Words: Eddie Cummings
Photo: Anne-Marie Atkinson