Reclaim the Night rallies are held nationwide. Picture: Craig SillitoeTHIS evening hundreds of women will take to the streets to demand an end to sexual assault and violence against women.
Reclaim the Night (RTN) is a yearly tradition for women that takes place all over the world, and Newcastle is no exception.
This protest was born in Germany in 1977 and the same year women’s rights activists in Britain organised RTN across 11 cities. By 1978 the event reached .
Reclaim the Night is, and always has been, a protest about ending sexual assault and violence against women.
The march is exclusively for people who identify as women and asserts that every woman has a right to live their lives free from violence, rape or fear.
Whether or not people wish to acknowledge it, violence and murder committed against women is chronic, brutal and devastating, and the statistics back this.
Almost every week one woman is murdered by a current or former partner, one in five women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime and one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
Furthermore, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more so than any other risks, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, according to Our Watch.
The impact is so devastating that we feel the need to keep count: Destroy the Joint reports that 75 women have been violently killed this year and REAL for women has counted 34 Aboriginal women killed this year alone.
It’s a crisis and an injustice, and women deserve better. Women deserve to live their lives free of fear.
Rosy Batty has done much to put violence against women on the agenda in 2015, however, more needs to be done.
Ms Batty has given us a platform not just to raise awareness but to engage the community and work towards changing the culture of violence that exists in this country.
The need for these changes is reflected in the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, which demonstrates some disturbing attitudes about violence against women by young people in : 40per cent of young people think rape results from men ‘‘not being able to control their urges’’, 60per cent think violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and 25per cent think partner violence can be excused if they regret it.
These attitudes reflect a culture that condones violence against women and much more needs to happen, particularly with children and young people, to educate them around gender equality and human rights.
This is beyond simply respecting women; this is about creating a culture that does not abuse women and where men no longer feel entitled to abuse women.
Local issues of concern associated with this year’s RTN include the defunding of women’s and legal services by the federal and state governments and the absence of a Federal Circuit Court judge in Newcastle.
Hunter Domestic Violence services are very aware that incidents of domestic violence increase over summer, however, most services are at capacity already.
That scenario of support services at capacity, combined with a looming increased need for services, is a lethal combination that is terrifying.
Funding to women’s and legal services needs to be increased, not decreased, and comprehensive violence prevention strategies need to be implemented, as well as an overhaul of the legal system so that it supports women who are experiencing violence.
If these measures do not take effect, women will continue to be abused, assaulted, injured and murdered.
This is why we need initiatives like Reclaim the Night, so that we can continue to fight for justice and rights for women and to create a fairer society where women are free from harm and receive the services they so desperately need.
■ Reclaim the Night will be marked in Newcastle tonight with a march in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Women and children are invited to march. Men are invited to attend activities before and after. Marchers will meet at 5.45pm in Gregson Park, Hamilton, for a 6pm march.
■ A Lake Macquarie march tonight has been organised jointly by Eastlakes and Westlakes Domestic Violence Committees, for Warners Bay foreshore. Meet at about 6pm near the rotunda for a march around 7pm.
Nicole Molyneux is a social science student, human rights activist and member of the Reclaim the Night Organising Collective 2015