Reclaim the Night, a national, annual march against gender-based violence and sexual harassment, hit the streets of Norwich for its third time last night (Thursday 8th March). The date was also shared by International Women’s Day.
Taking place in the intimate confines of The Dog House Bar in the city centre, the event included a selection of poetry and spoken word performances, followed by the march down to Prince of Wales Road and back.
One student activist, Lotty Clare, spoke about her inspirations for writing and performing her own poetry.
“It is because of seeing so many people share their experiences online and on TV – I know not everyone is able to speak up about their experiences, but it is empowering when they do. It’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come for gender equality, but we still have a long way to go in terms of gender based violence, for example.”
Unlike other Reclaim the Night events across the country, such as in London, which is considered a ‘women-only’ march, Norwich’s variation promotes an all-inclusive attitude towards supporting all individuals who may be affected by sexual harassment.
Second year student, Ryan Jordan, who also delivered a speech and performed several poems, describes how he felt on the night.
When I performed, my heart was pounding at first. But in the second half, I thought, ‘I’m with people who are amazing, and in Norwich you feel that you can do anything, unlike London.
You’ve got a beautifully different array of people. It feels so safe. And UEA has always been very accepting. I feel okay being myself, and I feel that’s what Reclaim the Night is about.
Several speeches also referred to the ‘Changing the Culture’ and ‘Never OK’ campaigns at UEA, as well as topical campaigns namely #MeToo and #Time’sUp, which have encouraged a more public dialogue on sexual harassment.
There was also a mention to the campaign which took place last year to turn back on residential street lights in the city after residents expressed their safety concerns.
Juliet Donaghy, who sits on the chair of the Non-binary and Women’s network at UEA, helped to organise the event. She intimated the importance of holding an event like this in Norwich.
It’s completely tragic that some people don’t feel safe on the streets of Norwich; everyone should feel safe and empowered, and part of a community that supports them. Until that happens, we’re going to need to do events like these and talk about some of the things that have happened to us.
I want survivors to know that they are not alone, that their voice is heard, that things are changing. And we’re going to keep fighting until things are better.
- Watch the coverage of last year’s Reclaim the Night in Norwich, filmed and produced by Chloe Howcroft and Mia Shah: