Last night over 3500 Manchester students and members of the public joined forces to say no to sexual abuse against women, street harassment and victim blaming in Fallowfield.
Reclaim the Night is a march held every year in support of victims of sexual abuse and in protest of the acts themselves.
An ICM poll commissioned by Amnesty International in 2005 found that over a third of people in Britain believed that women were partially to blame for being raped if they had been drinking or dressed provocatively.
But Jessica Lishak, Women’s Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, was delighted with the turnout on Thursday night, describing it as ‘special’.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the turnout last night, over 3,500 people came along and chanted their hearts out to make sure the march was just too visible to ignore,” she told MM.
“What was particularly special for me was to see how many youth groups from around Manchester came together to engage with the issues and show that their generation, of all genders, will not stand for street harassment, sexual violence and victim blaming.
“It was also good to hear from so many people both at the after party and from people contacting me on social media that it was a really empowering and inclusive atmosphere for people who had experienced sexual violence and that they felt able to share their stories with me. “
Jess is in her second year of working in the role and is also organising events and campaigns on women’s issues all year round.
She also created a student shuttle bus service for door to door travel to provide safety for students travelling home late at night, which is also used as a fundraiser for Manchester Rape Crisis for students who have experienced sexual violence.
Government cuts have left a huge lack of support to these causes, which is why these events and charities are vital.
Pop up events were also used prior to the march in areas where students feel unsafe, reclaiming the areas back by bringing music, poetry and awareness to the cause.
A recent survey showed that 95% of women don’t feel safe walking home at night and over half of women often put off going outside in fear of their own safety.
The Reclaim the Night march began at 7pm from Wilmslow Road, to Oxford road and ended at The University of Manchester Students’ Union which was followed by an after party.
The after party’s line-up consisted of women speakers including Kate Green, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, as well as poets, musicians and DJs.