Since 1979, women and their allies have gathered once a year to rally and protest street-based and other forms of violence against women. This year, on September 19, Take Back the Night Winnipeg will reclaim the streets for the 35th time.
“We have conflicted feelings about this year,” says Jann Ticknor from Women’s Health Clinic, the community organizing committee member for Take Back the Night Winnipeg.
“On one hand we are celebrating 35 years of activism, but on another we are upset we are still marching in 2013 for essentially the same issues. Clearly, there is still much more work to be done locally and we see evidence of this everyday in media stories of violence, and community responses to this violence like the work of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, who we are excited to be collaborating with this year.”
The per capita rate of violence against Manitoba women is almost twice the national average, and the second highest in the country, according to a 2011 Statistics Canada report. Manitoba also has one of the highest domestic violence rates in Canada – and the majority of victims of are women.
Only one in 10 sexual assaults are reported, which means the 1,460 sexual assaults reported in Manitoba for 2012 is a very low estimate of cases.
“Violence against women – in the streets, in our media, television, movies and online communities – reflects a culture which objectifies, disrespects and dishonours women,” says TBTN committee member Mandy Fraser, counselor in the Sexual Adult Crisis Program at Klinic.
“Our work and the Take Back the Night international movement is one part of challenging street- and campus-based violence and harassment as ‘normal’, and is about nurturing safer communities for everyone.”
There is a particular emphasis on challenging misogynistic ‘norms’ on university campuses, given the reports of pro-rape chants being circulated and imposed on students at orientation activities. For example, the YOUNG chant reportedly taught and encouraged at the University of British Columbia and Saint Mary’s University has received significant media attention.
Take Back The Night Winnipeg is encouraging everyone of all ages and genders to attend. Participants are encouraged to bring signs as well as pots, pans, spoons and noisemakers as they will march in “cacerolazo style” (casserole protest).
The event starts off with a rally at 6:30pm at the William Norrie Centre located in the University of Manitoba’s Inner City Campus, at 485 Selkirk Ave, followed by the march at 7:00 pm.