This Saturday, Sheffield will see the return of the annual Reclaim the Night march.
Originating from Leeds in 1977, the march began as a protest against the police response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders, which told women to simply stay inside, advice which women found to be both offensive and impractical.
41 years later and women still feel unsafe on the streets. This October, a report released on street harassment faced by women described harassment as a “routine and sometimes relentless experience for women and girls, many of whom first experience it at a young age.”
Speaking at a banner making session hosted by the Sheffield University Women’s Committee, Committee Chair Natalia Mole outlined the importance of events such as Reclaim the Night, and how street harassment is an endemic problem in society.
“Reclaim the Night is about giving women, particularly underrepresented women, a voice and the confidence to feel safe on their streets. It’s about coming together as a group and feel powerful in a space where we usually feel so afraid.
“When I’m on this march with a whole group of women it’s the safest I ever feel walking around the streets. There’s always this that doubt that is this man following me or is he walking in the same direction, is this man who catcalled me going to start following me,” Natalia added.
The march continues to be important as women are still being harassed and assaulted in the street on a regular basis, with many women who wish to attend the march feeling to unsafe to even walk to the march’s start point, at Sheffield Cathedral.
To many, the march is a way of coming together and feeling empowered.
“It’s the one time you can switch off from that fear and come together as a group. It’s making sure we can’t be ignored, a group of women walking through the streets and chanting is less likely to be ignored, coming together gives us a greater voice,” Natalia said.
“It’s easy to dismiss something when you don’t experience it. A lot of men don’t ever stop and think about the violence women around them are facing. It’s very easy to not realise how big the problem is when you’re not the victim.
“Everyone they know has experienced some sort of street harassment.”
The Reclaim the Night march will take place this Saturday 24, starting from Sheffield Cathedral at 6.30pm.
More information can be found here.