Women reclaim the night


Across Australia protesters gathered on the evening of October 25 to participate in annual Reclaim the Night marches demanding an end to violence against women.

The largest march was in Brisbane. Maria Voukelatos reports that close to 1000 women attended, coming from all over south-east Queensland. The focus of the march was on ending sexual violence against women, although no specific demands were raised. The night ended with a music festival at Kurilpa Point.

Many of the bigger marches were in regional cities. From Newcastle, Melody Coutman reports that 200 women and children gathered in Islington Park to hear a wide range of speakers representing women with disabilities, Indigenous women and campaign groups like Newcastle Action for Refugee Rights.

Vanessa Bowden, co-women's officer at the Newcastle University Students Association told protesters: "We need to fight domestic violence that occurs in the home, but women who are locked up in detention centres in the middle of the desert are also victims of violence... the feminist and humanitarian movements cannot move forward unless we recognise that the issues of refugees' rights and women's rights are linked."

Many at the rally were angry about a recent Newcastle Herald article that described young women baring their bellies in public as "revolting" and "visual pollution", even likening it to terrorism. In response to the article, 20 young women from Newcastle University briefly occupied the offices of the Newcastle Herald, unsuccessfully demanding an apology and a right of reply.

From Launceston, Kamala Emanuel reports that 160 people, mostly women and children, participated in the rally and march. Women and children walked with banners, candles, flowers and raised voices to Princes Square, where flowers were placed in a fountain, in memory of those who had suffered sexist violence.

There was no Reclaim the Night rally in Hobart. After a week-long media campaign about violence against women, women's service organisations held an information stall in the Elizabeth Street mall on October 22.

In Rockhampton tradition, Erin Cameron reports, 70 women and men marched loudly and militantly at Reclaim the Night. The march was followed by speakers about war, women in the Third World and stopping all violence against women. At the end of the night, people took leaflets for the anti-war rally planned for November 2.

Kerryn Williams reports that 150 women marched in Canberra. The event was organised by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre to highlight continued domestic and sexual violence against women, and concluded with an outdoor screening of films made by young women.

Around 200 people, mostly young women, marched in Sydney, Bronwyn Powell reports. Two hundred women also marched in a loud and colourful protest in Adelaide and 250 marched in Byron Bay.

From Darwin, Suzie Ambrose reports that about 60 women and children gathered at the Old Town Hall ruins to ask "Is it a dream or can we make it happen? — A world where women are safe". Chaired by Labor MLA Delia Lawrie, the protest was addressed by anti-war activist Ruth Ratcliffe and heard performances from Shellie Morris, Mary-Lynne Griffiths and children of women who had sought shelter at Dawn House women's refuge.

Nikki Ulasowski reports that 50 people attended Perth's Reclaim the Night rally and march. The theme of the rally was "Stop the war on women at home and abroad", with the specific demands of "No war on Iraq"; "Stop domestic violence against women"; "End mandatory detention"; and "Fight the sexism of Men's Confraternity".

From Green Left Weekly, October 30, 2002.
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