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Womens charities and University of Suffolk to march against sexual violence

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 November 2018

Bury St Edmunds Women's Aid is one of the partners agenices marching with Suffolk Rape Crisis, along with the University of Suffolk Students' Union and the Suffolk Feminist Society. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISIS

Bury St Edmunds Women's Aid is one of the partners agenices marching with Suffolk Rape Crisis, along with the University of Suffolk Students' Union and the Suffolk Feminist Society. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISIS

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Light and noise will fill the night when hundreds of women march against sexual violence during a packed late night shopping evening in Ipswich.

The group have been hard at work makeing sure those marching will be able to make as much noise and light as possible. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISISThe group have been hard at work makeing sure those marching will be able to make as much noise and light as possible. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISIS

The Reclaim the Night march on December 6 has been organised by Ipswich-based Suffolk Rape Crisis, with support from the Suffolk Feminist Society Network and the University of Suffolk Students’ Union.

The march starts at the University of Suffolk at 6pm. It heads to Grimwade Street, Majors Corner, into Carr Street and Tavern Street to the Cornhill, then down Queen Street, St Nicholas Street, St Peters Street and back along the waterfront to the university.

Amy Roch, director of Suffolk Rape Crisis, said: “It’s great that we are seeing the visibility of sexual violence increase in the media and campaigns like Times Up and #metoo are really making a difference.

“We want to provide a space where women can come together in a community event – women are coming to us and telling us that they do not feel safe. Our staff and volunteers don’t either. That’s not okay.

These banners will be seen on the march, which takes place on a Thurday night to coincide with late night shopping dates in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISISThese banners will be seen on the march, which takes place on a Thurday night to coincide with late night shopping dates in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISIS

The Facebook page for the march outlines the difference the organisers hope the march will make, demanding the right to use the streets in safety on the night of the march and every other night.

She added: “We are saying that something needs to be done on the street.

“We’re calling on Ipswich Borough Council to establish a charter that pub, clubs and establishments in town can sign up for to say that their staff are trained and prepared to keep women safe in their premises.

“We’ll also be ending the march with female fire dancers outside the University of Suffolk on the waterfront – and our after party hosted by Anna Matthews at La Tour Cycle Café, so a massive thank you to her.”

The Reclaim the Night team are hosing placard making sessions ahead of the march on December 6. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISISThe Reclaim the Night team are hosing placard making sessions ahead of the march on December 6. Picture: SUFFOLK RAPE CRISIS

The first Reclaim the Night march took place in Leeds in 1977, when women took to the streets to protest the police advising women to stay at home after dark in response to Peter Sutcliffe’s Yorkshire Ripper murders.

Their placards read: “No curfew on women – curfew on men”.

Saturday November 10 the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse (CARA) in Colchester led a Reclaim the Night march through the town High Street, with hundreds of women in attendance.

A woman was sexually assaulted hours after this on a street just meters from the marching route, a crime that Colchester councillor Darius Laws said proved the need for demonstrations such as this.

A spokeswoman from the Suffolk Feminist Society said: “Violence against women is on the increase, and there have been a couple of particularly shocking attacks recently here in Ipswich.

“When Amy Roch, director of Suffolk Rape Crisis, asked us to collaborate and help organise a march, we wanted women at Suffolk Feminist Society to be at the heart of it.

“We hope our Reclaim the Night march will let people know exactly how unsafe women feel in public and that we’ve had enough of being expected to stay home or not go out alone to protect ourselves. We are not the problem.”

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