A history of Reclaim the Night

A history of Reclaim the Night

Reclaim the Night is traditionally held on the last Friday in October, which is Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Despite the march’s long and interesting history it still, sadly, remains extremely relevant today.

Reclaim the Night facts and history

  • Co-ordinated women’s marches against sexual harrassment and rape first started in Europe and the USA in the mid-1970s.
  • The first Reclaim the Night march in the UK was in 1977 in Leeds. Inspired by similar marches in West Germany, the Leeds march was partly in response to the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ murders and the police reaction, which was to tell women they should not go out at night unless absolutely necessary.
  • These early Reclaim the Night marches fought for a woman’s right to walk without fear at night. They made it clear that women should not be restricted or blamed because of men’s violence.
  • In Australia, the first Reclaim the Night marches were held in 1978 in Sydney and Perth.
  • Over the years, although the focus remains on sexual violence, Reclaim the Night has evolved to include other forms of violence against women.
  • Today people march as a show of resistance, strength and unity.
  • They march because they believe everyone has the right to feel safe and to BE safe.
  • They march to show a united front against violence of all kinds.
  • They march in honour of those without a voice and to remember those whose voice has been silenced.
  • They will join people from all over the world fighting for the right of women to feel safe — to be safe — no matter where they are, no matter what time of day it is, no matter what they’re doing or what they’re wearing.

For more information visit the Reclaim the Night event page.

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