Women fight for rights and protection: Take Back the Night
Hundreds of people were gathered in the streets of downtown Ottawa on the evening Sep 22 for the annual rally and march Take Back the Night.
Rally started at Minto Park with three special speakers sharing their experience of sexual assaults at 6:15. Later on, march began and the procession went through ByWard Market, Rideau Center and finally went back to City Hall. Participants were mainly women, which came from different community groups including Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women, Women’s Initiative For Safer Environment and so on. Every marcher’s enthusiasm did not dampen by the heavy rain and low temperature in the night. Volunteers whistled rhythmically and marchers shout the slogans, like “women’s body, women’s right, we will not be terrorized” and sang the song “Against Sexual Violence Towards Women”. More than that, some of them held signs that read, “Long Live Proletarian Feminism”. The march lasted for an hour.
“We come together to advocate for women, to make them feel safer at night, to proclaim the right for avoiding sexual violence. Women should not be afraid of men. We all have to make sure that women feel safe.” an English teacher, Ruth Lee, explained the reason for her participating.
“I was scared of walking alone at night time. Now I come to this, I feel a kind of braver. It feels like a lot of communities are protecting us.” Noshin Rahman, a Carleton student majored in Women’s and Gender Studies shared her feeling after this rally.
Take Back the Night is an international event that originated in Europe in the early 1970s. In current practice, Take Back the Night events not only include women but also men as victims, bystanders, and supporters. This event is typically held for every third week of September across Canada. It is about women reclaiming the right to walk without fear, particularly at night. At the same time, it enables large number of women to fight against sexual or domestic violence and raise community awareness as a prevention measure.
“Taking back the night is refusing to stay silent when a friend is street harassed, refusing to accept blame for an assault against refusing, refusing to shame a woman for simply being a woman, refusing to believe the myths we tell girls and women about sexual violence” Bailey Reid said. As the founder and chief executive officer of Sisters Achieving Excellence, she attempts to empower other young women to be the best they can be.