Reclaim the night London 2012

Guest blogger Julian Norman invites everyone to join her in London’s Reclaim the night. Whitehall Place, 6pm, Saturday 24th November. Happily, all women are welcomed.

RTN London.jpg“Only the women.” That was the reason Newsnight gave for cutting the documentary on Jimmy Savile’s victims: that without any evidence beyond that of the victims themselves, there could be no documentary.

One tiny phrase, containing an ugly core of rape culture; that women and girls are not considered to be reliable witnesses to their own abuse. Where two women a week are murdered by a violent partner, but violent men are not prosecuted because the evidence is only the women. Where members of the specialist rape unit for the Metropolitan Police actually hung up a rape survivor’s knickers on their noticeboard for a joke, because hey, it’s only the women. Where your chances of achieving a conviction at the moment you report a rape are an astonishingly low 6% because it’s only the women. Where nearly a third of London women said that they felt afraid on public transport, but we never report it – because why bother? Action won’t be taken when it’s only the women.

Only the women. That’s going to be what I’m thinking of at Reclaim the Night on Saturday, a march for which I’m proud to be on the committee. Because although rape culture, violent misogyny and sexist harassment still exist, solidarity amongst women can do so much to erode them. We will be marching against male violence against women, on the day nearest to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Our presence on the streets will send out a message that we do have the right to be out after dark, that we are not going away, and that we are not prepared to tolerate abuse and victim-blaming. We will march in solidarity with our sisters elsewhere, and we will march to raise awareness.

Reclaim the Night is a women-run, women-only march. Men are welcome to the rally afterwards, but the event itself is – in the best sense – only the women. Because women together can achieve so much: in the last year we have seen the #ididnotreport and #webelieveyou Twitter campaigns take off. We’ve seen women in America vote solidly against rape apologists, and we’ve seen women in the UK speaking out against the anti-choicers trying to chip away at abortion rights. Women have played a huge part in the anti-cuts movements. And the more we do, the more we will achieve, until the day when “only the women” is a phrase not of executive dismissal but of inspiration and success.

Join us there. Whitehall Place, 6pm, Saturday 24th November. Children under 13 of any gender are welcome on the march. Men are welcome to the Men’s Vigil at the Edith Cavell Memorial Statue, run by the White Ribbon Campaign, and to the afterparty. Bring your friends, your family, your placards and most importantly yourself!

Photo of marchers on a previous Reclaim the Night London by Hannah Nicklin, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

NB: This post originally showed an image of the Brighton RTN, which was for all genders. This was removed after the issue was highlighted by Brighton Feminist Collective – we apologise for the mistake.