March and film festival highlight violence against UK women
British feminism is alive and well… in fact, it’s more important than ever, with two UK women now dying at the hands of partners or ex-partners every week.
On Saturday 25th November – to coincide with International Day to End Violence Against Women – thousands of women of all ages and ethnicities will march together through the centre of London, to Reclaim the Night.
Many will remember the annual march from its original heyday in the late 1970s; however, its resurgence since 2004 is a genuine response by today’s women, taking urgent and positive action against a very real and current problem.
It is estimated* that, since the return of Reclaim the Night just two years ago…
•100,000 British women have been raped (plus another 80,000 attempted rapes)
•Over half a million have been victim to a sexual assault in the UK
•200 women have been killed by their partner or ex-partner
•There have been 2.9 million incidences of domestic violence in the UK alone
Finn Mackay, Chair of the London Feminist Network, was recently profiled among the Guardian’s 15 world-changing women. She is convinced that the issue of feminism has never been more relevant or vital:
“There seems to be a false perception in some quarters that feminism has made its point – that the issues faced by women in previous decades have all been dealt with, and now we should just politely go away. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“A woman reporting a rape in the UK today has just a one in twenty chance of seeing the rapist convicted. Compare that to one in three in the ‘bad’ old days of the seventies. The number of sexual offences reported each year has almost tripled since the first Reclaim the Night march thirty years ago.
“A 2005 survey by More magazine revealed that 95% of women don’t feel safe on the streets at night – and two thirds don’t feel safe during the day. Women cannot be equal citizens while the fear – and reality – of violence restricts our lives in this way.
“Reclaim the Night is thousands of women walking together – it’s empowering, and gives us one night when we can feel genuinely safe walking the streets after dark.”
The women-only march concludes with a mixed rally at the University of London Union in London’s Malet Street, featuring speakers, DJs and live bands.
The march is preceded by the opening of a brand-new Feminist Film Festival at the famous Curzon group’s new Bloomsbury cinema – organised in conjunction with Scary Little Girls Productions. A varied and open programme will commence with the classic “Born in Flames”, and continue the following weekend, examining the relationship between pornography and violence against women.
SLGP Managing Director, Rebecca Mordan, commented: “The horrifying extent of violence against women, here in the UK in 2006, is exacerbated by the refusal by some parts of the legal system and the media to take women’s experiences seriously… But how can we claim to live in a modern, decent society when the police receive a domestic violence call on average once a minute?”
“We’re all guilty of underestimating the sheer scale and life-destroying impact of this all-too real and current issue. I’m delighted we can play some small part in tackling the current climate of apathy and – often – blatant disbelief.”
* The statistics are obtained from the following sources:
Joint Home Office Cabinet Office Report: Living Without Fear (1999)
British Crime Survey (2001)
Home Office Statistical Bulletin: Violent Crime Overview, Homicide and
Gun Crime (2004/2005)
Home Office Recorded Crime Statistics (1898 – 2004/2005)
The Day to Count: a snapshot of domestic violence in the UK. (E. Stanko 2000)