Sunday, 22 February 2015

Reclaim the Night march

This is a slight departure from my normal, irregular ramblings in that it isn't directly about optometry, rather it's about something I got up to this last week and feel strongly about.

Reclaim the night is a series of marches in various cities to highlight the issue of violence against women and how they don't feel safe walking the streets at night (and at times during the day). The movement started in the 1970's in response to police telling women to stay off the streets as the Yorkshire ripper was still at large. Since those days the rape conviction rate has remained extremely low, with only 1070 convictions in 2013/2014 despite 12,000 men and 85,000 women being raped.

While I may not be able to stop people being raped in person, I can help highlight the issue and do my best to help cut down the prevailing "lad" culture. This makes some men foolishly think that it is okay to grope, harass, cat-call and intimidate women all in the name of "banter". This is no better exemplified by Dapper Laughs who was due to perform at Cardiff University Students Union on Friday before a successful campaign to stop him performing at the Union by one of the guest speakers (you can read more about that here and here). 

Women shouldn't have to be afraid to walk the streets at night for fear of attack. They shouldn't have to put up with being groped in night clubs, they shouldn't be afraid to say no to men and they shouldn't be blamed if a man attacks them. Alcohol, what they are wearing, where they are - nothing is an excuse for a man to attack a woman EVER!

Because of this I took part in the Reclaim the Night Wales march held in Cardiff last Friday. The event was organised by NUS Wales and included students from Cardiff University, other universities and the rest of Wales. After making banners we walked round Cardiff city centre making a lot of noise and drawing a lot of attention to highlight the issue as much as possible. This was followed some very brave and thought provoking speeches back at Y Plas.

I am proud to identify as a feminist and commit to doing my best to raise awareness of the issues that women face and trying to stamp out sexist behaviours whenever I encounter them.

Rant over.