The first annual Reclaim the Night march since Covid times took place on the 24th November 2022, demanding awareness and change for safer streets in Bristol. This rally directly advocated for the irradiation of sexual violence implicated by men towards women, assembled by University of Bristol students. Fuelled by anger and disgust by the normalisation of harassment within our streets, we were joined by victims and those who just want themselves and friends to get home safe, without fear.
People unite, reclaim the night
Starting in Queens Square, everyone gathered and prepared for the march with a speech informing a safety briefing, our legal right to protest, and the planned route for the rally. We began our walk, unanimously chanting, blocking roads and drawing attention from all those around us. It felt unifying when the public joined in our protest by beeping horns, ringing bike bells or cheering from high up street windows.
What do we want? SAFE STREETS! When do we want them? NOW
Run by the University of Bristol’s Student Union, in collaboration with IFemSoc and Women’s Network, this event was a truly moving and empowering experience which successfully informed the streets of the city with our message. The atmosphere felt collective and united as we marched purposefully through main roads of Bristol, chanting powerful and compelling demands.
Say it once, say it again, no excuse for violent men
A few words from one of Bristol’s Student Union Officers which deliberates the meaning behind the rally and reasons for its awareness:
What is the meaning behind the protest?
“Reclaim has been a longstanding, incredibly powerful movement demanding the right to feel safe out at night without fear of harassment and assault. It is an opportunity for us all to march together to take an active stand against gender-based violence and oppression; demonstrating our defiance to living in fear. In Bristol we have successfully held the march for many years, however due to COVID it has not happened since 2019, so I am beyond excited to be bringing it back on the 24th of November this year.”
Why is this topic so important in the present day?
“In 2022 we will not relent to victim blaming, or blurred lines around consent. As Equality Liberation and Access Officer at Bristol SU, this year I’m working on sexual violence as one of my priorities, to ensure that support for survivors is always available and that consent is never a debatable topic. This march is just the beginning of fighting for a safer university, a safer Bristol, and a safer society“
What are your aspirations for the outcome of the march?
“We hope to see students, staff, and the wider community marching together to make a statement in solidarity with each other, with survivors of sexual violence, and in hopes of a safer Bristol.”
– Saranya Thambirajah- Equality, Liberation and Access Officer
Whatever you wear, wherever you go, yes means yes and no means no
This demand for change is one that is not yet over. This fight is for not having to walk a little faster on your walk home when theres a man behind you. This fight is for not having to question if you need to take a rape alarm with you once the sun sets. This fight is for all the women who have felt gut wrenching fear when a car full of men pulls up to you on the street. This is the fight we will never give up, until we can worry less about our friends getting home safe and keys don’t have to be gripped between our knuckles.
For more information about feminist matters within the University, and news of future events about similar topics, visit the IFemSoc and Women’s Network socials.
The people united will never be defeated