Global women’s event Reclaim the Night is being held in locations across Australia this week in protest against gender-based violence.
Held annually in the last week of October, the Reclaim the Night march first debuted in Belgium in 1976.
The annual event comes as a new report reveals more than half of Australian women do not feel safe walking alone at night. In comparison, the report found nearly 80 per cent of Australian men do feel safe.
The march aims to “draw together women from diverse backgrounds and experiences to work together in addressing issues of men’s sexual violence against women and children”.
To men who whistle, shout and heckle – it doesn't make women more attracted to you, it makes us fearful of our safety #reclaimthenight
— srhbxtr (@srhbxtr) October 21, 2016
Reclaim the Night protests are being held in various Australian cities and towns, including Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Richmond, Brisbane, and Darwin.
Aspiring social worker Linda Bell attended Port Macquarie’s 200-strong march on Tuesday.
“Even in a quiet area like Port Macquarie I still feel uncomfortable walking alone at night,” she told The Newsroom. “I think women, men, and children all deserve the right to feel safe at night.”
Ms Bell believes the government should respond to gender-based violence by addressing greater issues that are causing it, including drug use, alcohol abuse, and homelessness.
“We are starting to make a move towards ending gendered violence with increased resources and preventative programs but I believe our focus should be educating children; children are the way of the future and preventative action must start with them,” she said.
Last night, a Reclaim the Night march was held in Richmond for the Hawkesbury community. Hundreds of women, men, and children braved the chilly conditions to promote women’s strength and survival, and to encourage a greater community response to violence.
The march was held by The Women’s Cottage, a community-based support and resource centre, run by women, for women. The Richmond organisation has been holding the event for over two decades.
Federal MP for Macquarie Susan Templeman spoke to The Newsroom about the importance of Reclaim the Night:
Tonight, women will march through the streets of Sydney to protest how the Australian government responds to violence against women in Australia.
In the last month, we have seen a number of related gender-based protests across the world. In Poland, thousands of women gathered to protest their government’s plan to ban abortion. Earlier this week in Iceland, thousands of women left work 14 per cent earlier to protest the 14 per cent gender pay gap.
— Reclaim the Night (@RTN_sydney) October 26, 2016
Sydney’s protest will kick off tonight at 5pm in Hyde Park. In its 40th anniversary, the march will feature a picnic, live music, speakers, food trucks, free celebratory cake and loads of glitter. The official march will begin at 7:30pm.
The Newsroom took to the streets to ask women about their experiences with gender-related violence.
– Presented by Jessica Staveley and video produced by Lisa Solinareos
Photo from Reclaim the Night Facebook page, additional photo by Jessica Staveley.