On Sunday 13th March, Exeter is holding a Reclaim the Night march. It will commence at 7pm in Bedford Square, and will culminate in music and speeches in the Exeter Phoenix. Everyone is welcome.

In Britain, Reclaim the Night Marches began on 12th November 1977, in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, London and many other cities.  Women walked in their hundreds through the city streets at night to highlight that they should be able to walk anywhere and that they should not be blamed or restricted because of male violence. 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. One key focus is now the shockingly low national rape conviction rate.

Exeter’s march will also challenge local cuts to ‘Against Domestic Violence and Abuse’ (ADVA) and to street lighting.

Caitlin Hayward-Tapp, the President of Exeter University’s Gender Equality Society, said “We are marching in Exeter because this is still relevant, and important. Women are still blamed for rape and male violence. The national rape conviction rate is one of the lowest in Europe. Women still don’t feel safe at night, in the town and on campus.” She also highlighted the fact that now, more than ever, women need to be standing up for themselves, saying “It has been shown that the Government’s cuts are disproportionately affecting women. In Exeter this has certainly been the case with the Council’s 42% cut to ADVA. We need to challenge this, and the mentality throughout the country that women’s safety is less important than saving money.”

It is a proud moment for Exeter to join the long tradition of Reclaim the Night marches in this country. That the march is open to everyone is also significant, as many such events are women-only. It is the belief of the Exeter Gender Equality Society that the fight for women’s safety is something that everyone should engage with, regardless of gender.