This guest post is by Leanne Sutheran, on behalf of the Reclaim the Night Leeds Steering Group
Sisters, you are all warmly invited to join with the women of Leeds as they march to Reclaim the Night on Saturday 28 November 2009. We see our Reclaim the Night March as direct action by self-defining women to reclaim the streets and assert our right to feel free from fear of rape and sexual violence. The march will take women on a route around the city centre to reclaim places where women feel vulnerable from attack; the last stage of the march will be open to all. There will be a post-march reception with speakers and stalls
Why are we reclaiming the night in Leeds?
As readers of the website will probably know, research by Rape Crisis England and Wales suggests that as few as 10% of rape and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Of these few, only around 8% result in a conviction; in West Yorkshire the conviction rate is 8.3%.
We feel the march will publicise these dismal rates of conviction more widely, as well as expel some of the myths around rape and sexual violence. We also hope to challenge some of the public’s attitudes towards rape and sexual violence, as exemplified in the Amnesty International research, which suggests that there is a general sense that a woman is partly responsible for being raped if she is out alone, had a drink or dressed provocatively.
Our aim: We assert our right, as women, to challenge and feel free from the fear of rape and sexual violence wherever we are, by reclaiming areas around Leeds where women feel vulnerable from attack.
Our objectives are:
To raise awareness and understanding of rape and sexual violence committed against women and girls. This will include exploding myths around rape and sexual violence and challenging public attitudes towards rape and sexual violence as symbolised by the low rape conviction rate;
By publicising the prevalence and effects of rape and sexual violence, provide a platform for campaigning for improved services in the Leeds area, thus striving to make safer and sustainable communities;
To build partnerships with national and Leeds based organisations and ensure Reclaim the Night Leeds is citywide;
To encourage and promote the participation of all self-defining women and work towards encompassing their diversity.
There are lots of ways you can help. The most straightforward is to pop 28 November in your diary and come and join us march to defend our right to feel free from fear!
If you’re Leeds-based you could help out by displaying a Reclaim the Night poster or distributing some leaflets.
Volunteer. We’re looking for people to help the night run smoothly such as stewards and other helpers.
Again, if you are local in West Yorkshire, you could even do more by getting involved in our friendly and supportive steering group. There are a wide range of activities to get involved in from writing funding applications to organising the late night dancing!
Spread the word by chatting to your friends, family, neighbours about Reclaim the Night Leeds. This is something for all the women of Leeds.