For the second time in my life I participated in the global movement entitled Take Back the Night (TBTN). It aims to end sexual violence especially against women, but our group at The New School (and many others) opens it up to simply fight gender based violence.
To give you a better understanding of TBTN I first would like to share a quote with you from the official website of the movement: http://www.takebackthenight.org/
“Why Take Back the Night?
A woman walks alone down a dark, deserted street. With every shadow she sees, and every sound she hears, her pounding heart flutters and skips a beat. She hurries her pace as she sees her destination become closer. She is almost there. She reaches the front door, goes inside, collects herself, and moves on forgetting, at least for tonight, the gripping fear that momentarily enveloped her life. This scene could have occurred anywhere last night, last year, or even 100 years ago. Historically, women faced the anxiety of walking alone at night and that is why Take Back the Night began.”
TBTN first took place in Brussels, Belgium in 1976. It was during The International Tribunal on Crimes against Women that around 2000 women from over 40 countries claimed the streets for a candlelight procession. Shortly later that year, Reclaim the Night was organized in Rome, Italy after an especially brutal rape had occurred and research showed that there had been 16,000 reported rapes. From there the movement went to West Germany in 1977, where women had to fear sexual assaults at any moment, and were demanding “the right to move freely in their communities at day and night without harassment and sexual assault.”
That same year Leeds in England joined the movement. The town is famous for “Jack the Ripper,” who at the end of the 19th Century killed at least five prostitutes a night. Until today the murderer hasn’t been found and in 1975 the “Yorkshire Ripper,” Peter Sutcliff, appeared in Leeds, again killing prostitutes. As a result, the police encouraged women to stay inside at night for their own safety and so the women of Leeds started to take action. Also in 1977, the movement went across the ocean and reached the US, where Anne Pride was the first one to introduce the slogan Take Back the Night during an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1978 Australia, Canada and India joined, and today it has become a global movement that takes place every year.
“Thirty-three years ago, women started to stand up and speak out against sexual violence under the banner of Take Back the Night. During those years, Take Back the Night became known internationally as a visible way to take a stand against sexual violence, specifically violence against women. […] As the history of Take Back the Night continues to be written, its mission to end sexual violence for all remains a beacon of hope for the millions affected by crimes of violence. We have made great strides, but our march is far from over.”
With the video below I would like to give you a little insight into our TBTN 2010. We first walked through the streets of New York, then lid candles in silence and at the end sat together for hours, sharing stories and breaking the silence about sexual violence.
“It takes two people to speak the truth: One to speak and another to hear.” – Henry David ThoreauGender, Women's Rights