Marchers aim to reclaim the night

SOLIDARITY and staying safe brought together around 200 people in Ipswich at a Reclaim the Night March.People gathered on the Cornhill yesterday before taking part in a candlelit vigil, march and minute's silence to help remember the five women murdered in the Ipswich red light killings.

SOLIDARITY and staying safe brought together around 200 people in Ipswich at a Reclaim the Night March.

People gathered on the Cornhill yesterday before taking part in a candlelit vigil, march and minute's silence to help remember the five women murdered in the Ipswich red light killings.

The Reclaim the Night event, similar to others held worldwide, demanded the right for women to live freely without the fear of violence.

People travelled from Birmingham, Portsmouth and Wales to support the event, also attended by Ipswich MP Chris Mole.

Rebecca Dale, who helped to organise the event, said: “There was a huge outpouring of emotion following the deaths of these women, and people have felt very scared, angry and upset.

“This event was about reclaiming public space for women and empowering women to prevent them from feeling afraid to go out at night.”

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Crowds expressed their grief after the deaths of Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, Annette Nicholls, 29, and Tania Nicol, 19.

Following talks from representatives from the Ipswich and District TUC and the English Collective of Prostitutes, the group marched to Handford Road in the red light area of the town where a minute's silence was held.

Bethan Griffiths, travelled to Ipswich with the Birmingham group Women Fight Back. She said: “What happened in Ipswich affected us even though we are from so far away.

“The march was about collective mourning and going to places in Ipswich where usually you are advised not to go. We made it a place women could go.”

Hugh Govan, 20, a student from Henley Road, Ipswich, said: “I was away when the murders were happening but when I spoke to friends here I realised it was not a nice place to be.

“I thought the march was worth getting involved in, and a chance to vent opinions.”

n Steven Wright, 48, of London Road, Ipswich, has been charged with murdering the five women. He is due to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday .

Reclaim the Night marches started in the UK in 1977, when similar events to that in Ipswich were held in response to the Ripper murders in Leeds.

Women in the city were angry at advice to stay indoors so hundreds marched with torches through the town and sung protest songs. Marches occurred simultaneously in 11 towns, from Manchester to Soho.

A WOMAN honoured with an MBE for her work supporting sex workers today said support and funding was easier to come by in the wake of the Ipswich murders.

Julia Plaine, 50, gets an MBE in the Queen's New Years Honours for spending more than 20 years helping women working on the street.

She was spurred on after Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe murdered 20-year-old Barbara Leach while they were at Bradford University together in 1979.

The day after the Reclaim the Night march, Ms Plaine, who works with women in West Yorkshire, said she found out about the award before the five prostitutes were murdered in Ipswich.

However, she added: “I've known women murdered in prostitution and I've worked with their families and seen at first hand the grief that's been caused and the children that have been orphaned by it.

“I know that years ago when we asked for support and funding we were not one of the most popular of victim support groups.

“But with the recent coverage of the murders in Ipswich, I've really noticed a change.”

AS the Cornhill was lit with candlelight yesterday, heartfelt speeches were given about dangers facing women and prostitutes on the streets.

Sarah, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, said: “We have seen a great outpouring of sympathy in response to the murders and I think that shows how many people understand women are made criminals through vulnerability.

“It's the value judgement put on women's lives which makes the vulnerable and we are determined these events in Ipswich must be a turning point for women.”

Teresa Mackay, secretary of the Ipswich and District TUC, said: “We want to lift the violent lid on the world of street prostitution.

“In the last ten years 60 prostitutes have been murdered in England and Wales.”

Ms Mackay also told how the families of the victims were invited to the event, but felt they could not attend because they were still grieving.

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