Take Back The Night. It is a movement that began in the early 1960s with protests in Belgium and England, led by women that felt unsafe walking alone at night as they became targets of sexual harassment and violence. This movement spread globally, becoming a night of education and action around the issue of sexual violence. Take Back The Night spread across North America in the early 1970s. One of the first rallies took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October 1975, after microbiologist Susan Speeth was stabbed to death whilst walking home from work at night. Tak(ing) Back The Night is a movement to empower survivors of sexual violence, and to create a community where fear of sexual violence does not overrule. Individuals should feel safe alone at night, without feeling like they are making a mistake of walking to their own home, when the crime lies within taking advantage of such a situation.
These rallies led to the formation of the Take Back The Night Foundation in 2001 when a woman by the name of Katie Koestner reached out to women who originally began the movement. Katie was the first woman in the United States to speak out both publicly and nationally about being a victim of on-campus rape. By joining forces, women turned a series of rallies into an ongoing fight that is educational and provides history on sexual violence. This foundation provides resources and funding to communities to facilitate the healing process of survivors and to protect at risk populations from sexual violence and abuse.
Sexual violence, harassment, abuse, stalking, and trafficking continue to be an epidemic in our society. Through events and initiatives, people of all backgrounds have a space to speak out and hold those accountable for their suffering, free from victim-blaming. It is about bringing back a society where all individuals can feel safe at all times of the day.
A movement historically taking place to support only women is now in place to support all victims and individuals at risk of sexual assault across the gender spectrum. According to statistics found on the official page of the movement, one in every three women, and one in every six men globally experience some form of sexual violence and/or intimate partner violence, where less than 50% of these crimes are reported.
Today, Take Back The Night as a movement takes place in approximately 36 countries, and within 800 communities, and growing. Through the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Peterborough-Nogojiwanong is one of those communities. The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting those affected by sexual violence, defined according to the United Nations as “[a]ny violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.” KSAC offers services including individual counselling, group counselling and workshops, peer supports, public education, and professional training. Throughout the Four County region of Peterborough, Northumberland, City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton, KSAC aims to raise public awareness around the issues, attitudes, and systemic barriers that contribute to ongoing cycles of violence.
On Thursday September 20 2018, approximately 100 community members took part in a candlelight vigil and walk to Take Back The Night. Participants met at Millennium Park at 5 p.m. to begin making signs, and speakers shared poems and stories about the oppression they face, and gather strength to speak out alongside this movement. The rally began approximately at 8 p.m., where passionate participants marched across Water Street and George Street in the Peterborough Downtown core.
Along with candles provided by KSAC, people carried signs such as “Don’t Get Raped,” “My Body, My Choice,” “Welcome to Peterborough, We Have Rape Culture," “Don’t be a shitty human.” These are a few of the personal sentiments that were found amongst community members who rallied to stand against sexual violence. Members who rallied to speak up against the deafening silence of indifference. To Take Back The Night.
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