Supporting women in KW

For the past 26 years the Waterloo Region has taken part in the annual Take Back the Night march, which raises awareness about violence towards women.

This year the walk took place on Thursday Sept. 24 when women gathered from across the area to walk from Brewmeister Green in Waterloo to the Victoria Park Pavilion in Kitchener, to take a stand against this violence.

The women marched the streets and spread their message with slogans such as, “Yes means yes, and no means no” as well as chants like, “They say stay home, we say fight back.”

“There are so many ways that violence impacts women on a daily basis and so this march is saying that we have a basic human right to be here and to be safe in our own community,” said Sara Casselman of the Sexual Assault Support Center of Waterloo Region.

The origin of the walk can be traced back to England in the 1970s when a high number of assaults against women and children caused officials to impose a curfew.

Women were enraged that they required a male escort in order to be allowed on the streets at night, so Take Back the Night began as a way to regain their rights and independence.

Today women gather not only to make it known that they expect equal rights but also as a way to raise awareness about the amount of violence still projected at women and the dangers they face when out in the community.

“Knowing what it feels like to feel nervous about going out in the street by yourself, coming back from the bar or whatever, it’s never a good feeling… so hopefully [the walk] will make a difference,” said participant Andrea Bolen.

Last year there was an average of 15 cases of domestic violence called in to the police every day in the Waterloo region and there were 505 cases of sexual assault reported.

It is understood that only about 10 per cent of sexual assaults are reported, meaning that over 5,000 women in our region faced this injustice last year alone.

“I think it’s a really amazing opportunity to see women’s solidarity and women’s power and strength in numbers,” said Casselman.

“So much positive change has happened for women over the last 50 years … and we’re moving forward but we need to continue to fight and speak up against violence.”

This event is a place for women’s voices to be heard, both about personal experiences with violence and assault and also about gathering together to fight back against the violence.

“It’s empowering,” described Trish Beardsley about participating in the march.

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