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Take back the night

The annual march brings together people from across Halifax. (Michael Cestnik photo)

Signs reading ‘Respect my rights to walk alone’ and ‘no more silence no more violence’ were held in Victoria Park on Sept. 28 for Take Back the Night.

The annual march was organized by the Dalhousie Women’s Centre and raises awareness of sexual violence in the community.

In 2011 one sexual assault was reported to Halifax police every day, according to statistics from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. There were 393 cases reported that year.

Take Back the Night began in Philadelphia in October of 1975. It was  a reaction to the stabbing of a young woman who was walking home at night. Since then, similar events have been held around the world.

Daphne Goodwin is a board member for the Dalhousie Women’s Centre and was part of the organizing committee for the event. She says Take Back the Night is an opportunity to get people involved with the groups around them.

“Touch them. Tell them what you think. Make friends with them and let them know who you are and as they get to know you, what your values are, they will communicate your values that they resonate with. That’s how cultural change is made.”

Take Back the Night brings together a diverse group that included men, members of the LGBTQ community, and women of colour.

Sam Krawec was at the march. “ I’m against violence against women. I think it’s important for allies to meet and to show their visibility and to show their solidarity with women’s rights.”

The first guest speaker at the rally was Rebecca Faria, the local director of Hollaback! Halifax. Hollaback! is a movement to end street harassment and has a network of activists around the world

“Harassers are people who behave as if your safety, your comfort, and your consent are not important and relevant and they are wrong and we are going to hold them accountable,” says Faria.

Spoken word artist El Jones, who teaches at Dal, presented a poem about Shana Carter. Carter, a former Halifax resident, was missing for almost two years before her remains were found just days before Take Back the Night.

“She had children. She was a mother. She had people that loved her and she just disappeared and there was really no effort to find her outside of the people that loved her and now she’s dead. Which happens all the time to women,” Jones says.

The man Carter was living with at the time, Christopher Lee Sharples, has been charged with first-degree murder.

“I think we have to put more value on the lives of women and girls, particularly women and girls of colour.” said Jones

Laurel Walsh is also on the board of directors at the DWC. She says her women’s studies teacher in university changed her perspective and always praised Take Back the Night. She has attended marches in Ottawa and in Halifax.

“I really like the spirit that we have at ours and I think this year was especially strong,” she says.

The crowd marched towards the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre chanting, “claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand, take back the night.” People passing by on the street stopped to watch or shout their support.




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