On the evening of Friday 25 November, Bristol Students’ Union (Bristol SU) and The Students’ Union at UWE took to the streets to Reclaim the Night. With over 400 individuals meeting at Queen Square to participate, students from both universities were ready to shout about the inequalities they face in their gender, keen for the city to listen to their cries. As the bitter cold began to set in, Hannah Dualeh (Equality, Liberation & Access Officer at Bristol SU) and Darcy Ramsden (Women’s Officer) and I lead the march, to finish at the Richmond Building for an evening of poetry and music.
With chants of “Hey! Ho! Sexual violence has to go!”, we powered up Park Street, banners in hand, capturing the attention of many Bristol residents. Some cheered us from their apartments, some applauded us on the street, some filmed us and some simply yelled at us for holding up the traffic. Despite this, nothing could take away that feeling of liberation, being at the front of the march and shouting out against gender-based violence and gender inequality in our society. Being involved in Reclaim the Night was an incredible and inspiring experience, as I was finally actively campaigning against something that I was passionate about ending.
The march, held annually, finished in the Anson Rooms at Bristol SU. With stalls from Sisters Uncut, LaDIYfest and UWE’s own End It Now campaign, the inclusive atmosphere allowed students to discuss the movement whilst listening to poetry and music. Some stalls also hosted crafts, where individuals could therapeutically colour or make badges in support of the cause.
The campaign is a way to stand up to the constant reminders that women face; that we should not walk home alone or even go out at night. These ‘warnings’ do not protect us, they simply pass the blame onto victims, suggesting that we are responsible for the crimes committed against us. This is unacceptable. We will not be governed by fear.
Bristol Unite, Reclaim the Night!
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the staff and Sabbatical Officers at Bristol SU and The Students’ Union at UWE for working relentlessly to make this campaign possible.