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Why Reclaim the Night takes a stand against violence against women

45 years after it was founded, Reclaim the Night is still needed. Find out about a march, vigil and free webinars planned in Sheffield as part of the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence.

An illustration of a demonstration with Sheffield landmarks in the background and people with Reclaim the Streets banners

Reclaim the Night Sheffield 2022

The Sheffield University Students’ Union is hosting a Reclaim the Night march this Saturday (26 November) as part of the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence.

16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual period of action against violence against women and girls. Starting today (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), it runs until International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Reclaim the Night marches started in the 1970s. As the police warned women to stay at home because of Peter Sutcliffe terrorising women across the North, feminists fought back against the idea that they should be the ones contained in their homes when it was men who were the threat. The first march took place in Leeds in 1977, followed by marches in 12 other cities across the country that same year.

A mixture of newspaper cuttings with headlines about violence against women and girls
Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

The rape and murder of Sarah Everard and the murders of Sabina Nessa, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry have brought the issues of violence against women into sharp focus in recent years, even for those who had not previously given it much thought.

But for every highly publicised case, there are tens of thousands of unreported crimes taking place. Whether it’s the 1.6 million women in England and Wales who have experienced domestic abuse in the last year, the two-thirds of women aged 16-34 who have experienced harassment in the last year, or the 85,000 women raped every year, gender-based violence has devastating consequences.

Locally, Now Then has previously reported on the 381 sexual offences reported to the police that took place in South Yorkshire schools, deepfake pornography, and how gender-based violence intersects with other forms of oppression.

Women are still blamed for much of the abuse we receive. And on the rare occasions we try to report, we risk being dealt with by “predatory” police officers.

So women are tired. We are afraid. We are angry. And we are fighting back.

The Reclaim the Night event takes place on 26 November, starting with a march from Sheffield Cathedral at 5.45pm, followed by guest speakers from 7.30pm at Coffee Revolution at the Students’ Union. It’s open to all women, non-binary and other trans-femme gender identities. Carers and dependents of all genders are also welcome. ⁠

The organisers are also hosting banner-making sessions today between 4pm and 9pm in the Gallery Presentation Room at the Students’ Union and tomorrow between 10am and midday.

A poster for a monthly vigil remembering girls and women lost to gendered violence. 4th December, 6-7pm, Devonshire Green

Women's Equality Party monthly vigil

Other activities taking place in the city include a monthly vigil organised by the Sheffield branch of the Women’s Equality Party on the first Sunday of every month (6-7pm, Devonshire Green) and a series of free webinars from IDAS.

IDAS has also created 16 animations on different aspects of violence against women and girls, such as the one below on stalking (note: this is only accessible to people who can read text on a screen).

Learn more

The Reclaim the Night march has no available accessibility information but the route can be seen here (note: PDF inaccessible to users of screen readers). Access info for the Students' Union can be found below.

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