On the 24th February Reclaim the Night returns to Lancaster when students and the local community will unite to demand the right for women to feel safe when walking in public spaces at night.
Reclaim the Night, known in the US as ‘Take Back the Night’, is an annual protest where activists come together in cities and towns to demand safer streets. Alex Brock, Lancaster University Students’ Union Women+ officer and coordinator of this year’s demonstration, describes the march as an ‘event about active empowerment in regards to an issue that can feel unavoidable and limiting’.
Starting on campus at 8pm, the evening begins with an open mic night in Pendle bar where all are welcome. Then self-defining women and non-binary individuals will travel to town and gather on Penny Street (outside Revolution) at 10.30pm. This group will march through town, chanting and singing, then ending their route at the Sugarhouse where all genders are welcome to attend the after party.
The exclusion of men from the march is a topic that Alex admits is discussed each year when planning the march. Alex said that the women+ forum have chosen to continue to keep our march to self defining women non binary individuals (Women+) ‘as part of making the space more accessible to survivors of assault and promoting self-led liberation’. The group acknowledge that this can exclude men who have been victims of assault, and therefore have opened the open mic night on campus and the after party to all genders.
When asked why she felt the march was an important event for Lancaster, Alex replied, ‘it gives us as students a chance to put action to our anger and frustration, and show that we will no put up with assault in this city. While activities around sexual assault go on all year, from consent talks to policy planning with the University and Student’s Union, Reclaim the Night is special because of it’s visibility and inclusion’.
The event is distinct for its ability to draw support from both the student and local community. Those who have attended the march in the past describe it as a fun and empowering experience. Alex noted that ‘some of the most fun memories of the evening are from women in business we pass standing outside and chanting along.’
So will you be joining them this year on the march or the opening/closing events? See the Lancaster University Women’s Forum (@womensliblancs) for more information.