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Gender Block: Take Back the Night

Hillary Di Menna

September is home to Take Back the Night dates throughout Canada. Some cities, such as St. John’s and Fredericton had theirs this past weekend, and this upcoming week Edmonton, Guelph and others, will host rallies, workshops, and marches.

“Take back the night in itself i, one moment where us survivors can all get together and have one, two hours maybe, of safer space and empower ourselves,” Deb Singh, Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Violence counselor and activist, tells Sex, Brains and Money host Nikki Thomas. “[We can] take over the streets, and scream and yell and feel,empowered by our experiences rather than disempowered by sexual violence.”

This global movement appeared in Canada in 1978, when ad-hoc group Fly-By-Night Collective marched in Vancouver. Two years later, Canada’s first—and, at the time, only—rape relief shelter, Vancouver Rape Relief, organized the march and continued to do so until 1985. In 1981, The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres decided that nation wide marches would be held the third Friday of September, ensuring a country of women would be marching the same night.

Now, Take Back the Night activities land on different nights depending on the city, but the general message remains the same: a woman’s right to walk the streets free of violence.

“Of course it’s about creating visibility around the issues of sexual violence,” says Singh. Being able to create awareness around the ideas of domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood sexual assault. But also, it’s a place for us to talk about institutional violence.”

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna is in her first year of the gender and women’s studies program at York University. She also maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

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