The first known Take Back the Night march was held in Philadelphia in October 1975, following the murder of a young woman who was walking a block from her home. In March 1976, a Reclaim the Night march was held in Belgium by women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women. Later in 1976, a Reclaim the Night march was held in Rome to protest a rise in the number of reported rapes. In 1977, women in West Germany held a women-only Reclaim the Night march. In Canada the first march was held in Vancouver in 1978. The first march held in Halifax was organized in the late 1970s by the Anarca-Feminist Reading Group, with the help of various allies. Anarca-feminists see the power of men over women as yet one more example of the kinds of authority that must be challenged and resisted. In keeping with anarchist thought, the first march did not seek permission from the civil authorities : no permit was asked for, and no police presence was requested (although police did show up). Lacking the permit to walk on the street, the march proceeded in an orderly fashion on the sidewalk, under the direction of its own marshals. Only women marched : supportive men were invited to help with child care.
An early Reclaim the Night brochure from Halifax (undated, but around 1980) said : "We are women marching together to say that we will no longer tolerate violence against us. We are marching at night to say that together we are strong; we will overcome our fear of being out alone at night; we will reclaim the streets that are ours. We are marching in spirit with thousands of women who have reclaimed the night elsewhere in Canada, in the U.S., in Britain, in Australia, in Germany, and in more and more places across the world. We are marching to end street abuse, rape, battering, incest, pornography, sexual harassment on the job, and all the invasions of our bodies and spirits that are made against our will. We are marching together. Women of different ages, races, languages, classes, nations, sexual orientations, and political philosophies. WOMEN UNITE! RECLAIM THE NIGHT! OUR BODIES, OUR DIGNITY, OUR RIGHTS!"
Some early marches, variously known as Reclaim the Night or Women Reclaim the Night, were organized by the Reclaim the Night Committee, under the sponsorship of the Social Action Committee of A Woman's Place; or by Women against Violence against Women. In later years the event became known as Take Back the Night, the title most commonly used in North America. Although dates vary around the world, the Halifax march usually takes place in late September or in October.
Sources : http://www.takebackthenight.org/history.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_Back_the_Night; http://www.reclaimthenight.org; "Women Reclaim the Night" pamphlet. Halifax : Women against Violence against Women, (undated); and two other undated Reclaim the Night pamphlets from Halifax; Memories of the Anarca-Feminist Reading Group (Lynn Murphy).
This article compiled by Lynn Murphy
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