Reclaim The Night women's march returns to its home city of Leeds this weekend

A march for women to take back the night from fear of violence and harassment on the streets will be held in Leeds this weekend.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:11 pm

The nationwide movement of Reclaim The Night was founded right here in this city 42 years ago by the Women's Liberation Movement.

On November 12, 1977, some 60 women in Leeds marched up North Street in protest at being told by police not to go outside during the killing spree of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe.

Female demonstrators held signs reading, "No curfew on women - curfew on men", in a furious response at having their freedom curbed by the threat of violence.

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Women in Leeds are to march through the city centre 42 years after female residents took to the city's streets during the terror spree of the Yorkshire Ripper. Picture: Andrew Roe/Sheffield Star

Since then, the movement has expanded, with thousands taking part in the march each year.

Now in its 42nd year, a march has been organised for Saturday evening in Leeds city centre by students, which is open to all women and non-binary people, student or not.

Emily Dean, treasurer of Leeds University's Feminist Society which is organising this year's march, said it was a way to show women were 'taking back' the streets from overriding threats of harassment, violence and sexual assault.

Emily, a student at the University, said: "I don't think there are any women who would walk around at night in certain areas of Leeds, like Woodhouse Moor.

Scene of the murder of Irene Richardson who was killed by Peter Sutcliffe in Leeds in February 1977. Later that year, women marched through Leeds city centre in protest at being told not to go out at night, founding the Reclaim the Night.

"Every day I see warnings posted on social media about women who have been followed or even attacked.

"By going out and marching on the streets around Leeds city centre - which is a place where lots of women have been made to feel unsafe - it shows we're taking back control."

Last month, the Yorkshire Evening Post ran a series of special reports investigating the issue of women's safety in Leeds, speaking to dozens of women who had been harassed, shouted at, followed and even sexually assaulted.

Some of the women spoken to said they felt they were held responsible for being harassed or attacked.

Women are protesting at being made to feel unsafe walking the streets of Leeds at night. Picture: Shutterstock

Emily said that she, too, had experienced being harassed by men stopping in cars and winding their window down to shout things at her while walking through the student area of Hyde Park.

The Reclaim the Night march meets at 5.30pm on Saturday, December 7, on the Leeds Town Hall steps, and will leave at 6pm heading along Park Row, Boar Lane, Briggate and end at the Leeds University Students' Union where a rally will be held.

The march is for women and non-binary demonstrators only, although men are welcome to join the rally at 7pm.