Dozens of women marched through Peterborough to make a stand against sexual harassment.
Around 50 women of all ages joined the Reclaim the Night march in Peterborough city centre on Saturday night. Many carried colourful banners, chanted slogans and sang songs during the event.
Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya joined the marchers, with the walk being held on UN Day to End Violence Against Women.
Lizzy Dening, event organiser and trustee of Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group said despite many other city centre revellers backing the message behind the walk, the group did receive heckling.
She said: “Reclaim the Night is a women’s only march that’s designed to show strength and solidarity, and our march was all about making women and girls in Peterborough feel safe and supported. It was organised by Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group to enable local women to feel part of a welcoming, powerful movement, and allow them to be heard.
“This year was a particularly important one, because it marked the 40th anniversary of the first Reclaim the Night march, and because Saturday was the UN Day to End Violence Against Women and we were marching at the same time as women across the UK.
“It’s also an extremely important time for raising awareness of sexual violence, with all that’s going on in the press. One in five women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence from the age of 16, and it’s so important to reassure those affected that they aren’t alone, and that their voices can be heard.
“We started just after 7pm in Cathedral Square after a welcoming speech and handing out chant sheets and glow sticks. We set off on two loops of the city, ending at the Ostrich Inn.
“We were thrilled at the turn out, especially on such a cold night, attracting 50 women, two babies and even encouraging three young women to join us as we marched. We chanted, sang and laughed our way through the city.
“It’s fair to say the response was mixed. We did receive words of encouragement from many people, both men and women, as we passed, but as is to be expected we also experienced some heckling. And of course, that’s the whole point of Reclaim the Night. Until we get to a point where women can walk around their cities and speak their minds without being cat called, provoked or intimidated by certain groups, we will keep marching.
“We’re so grateful to everyone who came along, or who shouted words of encouragement as we passed, especially to our MP Fiona Onasanya for joining us. She’s been extremely supportive of the charity. We’re also thankful to the management and staff at the Ostrich Inn, who welcomed us afterwards with open arms and even refuelled hungry marchers free of charge.”
The charity is now planning for a number of events in the new year, including on International Women’s Day (March 8) and next November to celebrate their 35th anniversary.
Lizzy added: “We’d like to reassure any women affected by sexual violence that the charity is open to them. Visit www.peterboroughrapecrisis.co.uk or call 01733 852 578 on Wednesday 7pm-9pm or Saturday 10am–midday.”