‘Reclaim the Night’: Women set to march on Manchester in protest against abusive attitudes to females

Glow-sticks, colour and noise are firmly on the agenda for Manchester’s ‘Reclaim the Night’, an annual protest against sexual harassment and abusive attitudes to women.

Women from all over the UK will unite in an event which aims to ‘reclaim’ the streets of Manchester, encouraging women they can feel safe on their streets again.

Women and allies will congregate in Owens Park, Fallowfield this evening at 7pm and will then march together through the city – making as much noise as possible.

Oxford Road will be closed for the march which will culminate in a free-entry after-party at Manchester University SU.

Tabz O’brien, Manchester SU’s Women’s Officer said: “The march is for everyone, all the community is welcome, men and women. We need to work together to reverse the victim blaming attitude.

“There are lots of organizations attending and supporting the cause including Manchester Women’s Aid, North West LGBT, lots of arts charities, LGF and other feminist groups from across the UK.”

Reclaim the Night is an annual event which started in Manchester seventy years ago. There are similar marches up and down cities in the UK and also internationally.

Historically, the event started because of attitudes towards women when the Yorkshire Ripper was around.

Women were told to stay indoors and hide and instead they decided not to disrupt their lives and daily routine by hiding, but to protest against being told to stay indoors.

Today the event similarly targets victim blaming; particularly in rape and sexual harassment cases where women have been told that they encouraged rape by wearing ‘provocative clothing’.

Portrayal of women in the media and victim blaming in sexual aggression cases are other topics that Reclaim the Night will be marching against.

Tabz O’brien said: “The idea that victims should be ‘taught’ how not to be raped, instead of the perpetrator being taught not to do it is ridiculous.

“We were bigger than London’s march last year and this year we’re hoping to be even bigger and better again.”

A number of people have taken to Twitter to voice their support of the friendly protest.

Hannah McCarthy said: “#imreclaimingthenight because I don’t want to live in a society where sexual harassment is normalised and deemed acceptable.”

Rose Bray said also commented: “#imreclaimingthenight because I’m sick of feeling scared when I walk home #Manchester #ReclaimtheNightMCR”

The march coincidentally comes at a time when the People’s History Museum are hosting a month of events entitled ‘Wonder Women Radical Manchester’, part of a five-year long campaign culminating in 2018 to mark the centenary of partial votes for women.

Louise Sutherland from the People’s History Museum said: “I think Reclaim the Night is an amazing idea, I went last year and it was a really good night.”

For more info on Reclaim the Night and other upcoming events, click here.

Picture courtesy of Morten Watkins via Flickr, with thanks

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