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Group march to reclaim night
A GROUP which fights for women’s rights to walk the streets free from the fear of rape is encouraging people to listen as part of a new campaign.
Reclaim the Night supporters will march through the city next Friday to highlight the need for victims of sexual violence to be heard when they have the courage to speak out.
The annual event, which has been organised to coincide with International Women’s Day, is dubbed ‘Listen Up’ and runs from Cowley Road, East Oxford, to Oxford Town Hall, where there will be a celebration organised with Oxford International Women’s Festival.
Organisers say 111 rapes were reported in Oxfordshire last year but they believe many others went unrecorded.
Reclaim the Night member Clare Cochrane said: “When we started planning this we decided we wanted to encourage women to speak out – but quite often they do and aren’t listened to.
“We mean people in authority, teachers, police. But also, each of us as friends have a responsibility to listen – to listen to a person without judgment, without prejudice. When they trust they will be heard they will have the courage to speak up.”
There will be information about the campaign at a stall on Saturday in Cornmarket Street, from noon to 2pm, including a piece of street theatre on the theme of listening.
The march, which expects to attract 200 people, aims to demonstrate that women have the right to feel safe on a night out.
Ms Cochrane said: “Violence against women is an ongoing epidemic. It is 2013. Our campaign is to raise awareness that this still goes on.
“Rape is serious and it is a real problem.”
She added: “If you are drunk and in a bikini, you should still be able to walk down the street safe from rape.”
The march begins at 6.30pm from the corner of Magdalen Road and Cowley Road.
From 7pm to 9.30pm, women and men are welcome to celebrate at Oxford Town Hall in St Aldate’s, with music from Oxford Young Women’s Music Project.
Women are also invited to get involved in the street theatre piece on Saturday.
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