Take Back the Night

An annual, international event which actively campaigns against all forms of violence against wom*n.

In every sphere of our lives wom*n negotiate the threat of rape, sexual assault, harassment and violence.

In line with this; Reclaim the Night Sydney 2013 is taking a stand against violence in three key areas. Firstly, we are challenging the existence of violent attitudes and behaviours displayed towards wom*n in institutions; this extends across representations of violence we see in popular media, as well as violence in the workplace, and violence directed towards refugees. We are also protesting against domestic violence; with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that 1 in 3 wom*n in Australia will experience domestic or family violence in their lifetime, removing the basic human right of a wom*n to be safe in her own home.

Reclaim the Night began as a way of reclaiming the streets, herein comes our third focus for Reclaim the Night 2013, violence on the streets. Whether it be homeless women, sex workers, or anyone with lived experience as a woman, violence on the streets poses a threat to all. In addressing these issues, Reclaim the Night 2013 is reclaiming the streets, the home and the workplace, reclaiming the right of wom*n to engage in these spaces without fear.

This year, Reclaim the Night Sydney will be holding a family friendly picnic at Prince Alfred Park on Saturday the 26th of October. Beginning at 3:30pm, the picnic will have stalls and entertainment (music etc). Following this, a rally will take place where a variety of speakers will publicly address the issue of violence towards women in each of our focus areas.

Everyone is welcome at both the rally and the picnic. At 7pm, the wom*n-only march will begin, inviting wom*n to join together and raise their voices to reclaim the night.

To find out more, visit Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimTheNightSydney or the event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/300712536733633



In Australia, the first Reclaim the Night marches were held in 1978, inspired by marches which were taking place all over the world at that time. On April 30th 1977 German women marched against sexual harassment on the street and called their protest, ‘Take Back The Night’. This inspired women across Britain to form their own Reclaim The Night marches, which took place simultaneously in 11 cities in Britain in 1977 in response to the “Ripper ” murders in Leeds. The “Ripper” murders referred to killings by serial murderer Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed by the press as the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, who sexually attacked and murdered thirteen women across Yorkshire between 1975 and 1980. Women in the area were angry that the police response to these murders seemed slow and that the press barely reported on them as it was mainly sex workers who were murdered. But when a young student woman was murdered, the press and the police seemed to take more notice. The police response was to tell women not to go out at night, effectively putting them under curfew. This was unhelpful for women, particularly those who worked late shifts or night shifts, or those involved in sex work who had no choice about whether they went out at night or not. Feminists and a variety of student and women’s groups were angered by this response and also by the sensationalism of the serial murders, which they felt hid the real fact that all too many women are affected by male violence and that this was in fact common. The Leeds Revolutionary Feminist group called for women to march in cities across the UK on the night of 12th November 1977 against rape and for a woman’s right to walk without fear at night, they advertised this in national newsletters and publicised it to women’s groups. Hundreds of women took back their cities on that night, marching with flaming torches through centres and back streets alike. They made the point that women should be able to walk anywhere and that they should not be blamed or restricted because of men’s violence. The following year, marches were held in the US, more than 5000 women from 30 states marching through the San Francisco red light district. This was also the year of the first RTN marches in Sydney and Perth. Melbourne’s first march was organised in 1979 by volunteers connected to Melbourne’s first Rape Crisis Centre. Over the years the marches evolved to focus on rape and male violence generally, giving women one night when they could feel safe to walk the streets of their own towns and cities. Today we walk for the same reasons. To continue to fight our right to feel safe, no matter where we are, who we are with, what we are wearing or whatever time of day or night it may be; to give a voice to those who are still suffering in silence and to protest that it is NEVER the victim’s fault. Written by Amy Knox