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Reclaim the Night March: Marching for all women

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!” Citizens of Kent gather together for the UKC Women’s Campaign’s ‘Reclaim the Night’ March.

On a brisk November evening I wrapped up warm to join the UKC Women’s Campaign in solidarity along with many other men and women to show support for and stand with victims of sexual assault. It is a cause that is close to my heart because of the women I know and knew who brought the reality of the situation close to home.

Gathering at Westgate Hall among the hustle and bustle of last minute banner making I immediately felt a part of the community with smiling faces welcoming us in. After we went over some of the chants we gathered together and headed out, and although initially we fumbled here and there when chanting, it all came together and upon hearing the chorus of voices shouting out many shopkeepers gathered by the windows and couples set down their knives and forks to watch us pass by. Finally we convened outside the Marlow Theatre before we dispersed on our separate paths to go home.

I am no stranger to the threats a woman faces when she is out alone. Although I can not assume to speak for the women I know who have faced such terrible situations one thing that must be made clear is that no one ever ‘asks for it’, no one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted and no one, man or woman, should ever feel threatened because of who they are. Shockingly 90% of sexual assault cases are never reported, it is only the 10% that we hear about. This is no longer something to sweep under the rug, these women need to be heard and they need justice.

The life of a schoolmate of mine was cut short because of a sexually motivated attack in the middle of the day on a path I had walked a thousand times. She was a beautiful soul who had so much left to experience in life and did not deserve to go so soon. There are women in my family who have faced sexual assault and unfortunately it is a lot more common than people are comfortable acknowledging. Now is the time for change as Hillel the Elder stated; “If not now, when? If not me, who?”.

I marched for every Ellen, Jenny, and Lindsay. I marched for every woman who has ever felt threatened in her life. I marched for every child who is terrified of going home. I marched for every sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and daughter. I marched for all of the children yet to be born with the hope that we could bring them into a world of equality, where everyone is free to be true to themselves. I marched for the future of women.

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