Bristol's Reclaim Campaign: Why I’m scared to walk alone at night

This week in Bristol it’s the annual Reclaim the Night march. When I first saw this march advertised, my initial thought was, I can’t go to that, it’ll be too dark. This may sound ridiculous to someone who doesn’t fear walking in the dark, but my whole life family members and friends have always stressed that as a girl, I shouldn’t walk alone when its dark.

The Reclaim the Night march is a reaction against this message we tell girls. The purpose of the march is to highlight violence against women, which is often why we are told to not walk in the dark. The march started in Britain in the 70s and has in recent years becoming increasingly popular in major cities. Th walk consists of mostly women, although men and non-binary people are more than welcome. Typically, the walk is a show of solidarity against the violence women often face. Women are told not to walk around in the dark or at night, because this is the old-fashioned view that if women just avoid going out when the sun isn’t up, they will be kept safe. This argument is of course full of holes, as we know that women might be attacked regardless of where they go, what they wear or whether they are drunk or not.

Although I knew of the concept behind the march and completely agree with it, there was still a small part of me that was hesitant of doing the march due to it being in the dark. I thought of the consequences of me getting to the start of the march in the dark and then getting home again, still in the dark. I then realised that it wasn’t the dark I should fear but the men who attack women. Violence against women cannot be solved by policing where women go, but can only be tackled by going to the root of the problem, what we teach boys and men about their relationships with women.

Therefore, despite still having that outdated idea that I shouldn’t go out after dark in the back of my head, I will still be attending the march. These types of marches, which will be happening across Britain in the next few weeks are so crucial because it demonstrates that women will no longer conform to silly rules about when and where they can walk in order to “stay safe”. Arguably, a woman is equally likely to be attacked in the day time, as in night time, because men’s violence against women is not affected by a women’s actions. Violence against women has been happening for centuries in our patriarchal society, and me rushing home before the sunsets is not going to change that.