Reclaim the Night: Women demand end to gendered violence in north London
- Credit: Blanca Schofield
Hundreds joined a Reclaim the Night march organised by Haringey Women on Saturday night [December 4] to speak out against gendered violence.
The march went from Finsbury Park down Green Lanes to Duckett’s Common and was led by crowds of women of all ages and backgrounds asking to feel safe on the streets, be it at night, on jogs or simply walking home from work.
Islington councillor Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, who joined the march with her six-year-old daughter, took the megaphone at points to lead chants of “we need to educate young boys and men” and “women got the power, getting stronger by the hour”.
In an interview for the Gazette during the march, Valerie said: “I brought my daughter here because I want her to feel empowered.
“We need to make sure that every young girl and every woman feels safe so that’s why it’s important to take to the streets so they can hear us and know we want to make a difference.
“This has been a beautiful day with self-identifying women all united, recognising that we all need to be together.”
Islington resident, Martha, who attended the march with her friend Francella insisted on the importance of education in fighting violence against women.
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She said: “Men and young boys need to be taught that it’s not okay to intimidate and assault women. They have no right over a woman’s body.”
Both women also stressed that asking women across the community for their thoughts on their safety and listening to them was vital, while expressing doubt at the solution of putting more policemen on the street.
Francella said: “That’s just more men on the street really isn’t it.”
They also brought up the need for more lighting in Finsbury Park, a topic that came up at various other points during the march, including in a Gazette interview with Haringey councillor Kirsten Hearne who helped organise the event.
She said: “There have been a number of rapes and high profile murders in the area recently so I felt strongly that we should organise a march to demonstrate that these streets are our streets. We need better lighting and clearer routes in the park and wider pavements - everybody should be able to use our parks.”
She added: “A message I want to send is to stop blaming women. We need to hold public meetings on the issue of gendered violence and get action on violence against women put into the manifesto for the next council elections.”
Lead organiser Mary Mason highlighted the issue of victim-blaming too, expressing frustration at those who imply an assault victim should not have been walking on the streets at night.
She said: “We’re saying no. We have the right to be on the streets and we have the right to be safe.
“But women will only feel safer when men also support women’s safety and challenge other men who are attacking women. So that’s why men have joined us at the back of the march to say they are part of the solution.
“We should organise more of these local marches because walking our own streets actually has an impact and it encourages more local women to come out who wouldn’t necessarily go to the bigger London-wide or national marches.”
The march neared its end in Duckett’s Common with Martha, Francella and their friends leading a chant of: “Women unite - reclaim the night, women unite - reclaim the night, in every town and every nation, women unite - reclaim the night.”