It will be without joy that women come together on Friday night to mark the 30th anniversary of Reclaim the Night, an annual rally held to protest violence against women.

Started 30 years ago in Rome as a protest against a series of rapes, Reclaim the Night has gone on to become an international event which is as much about celebrating the solidarity of women as it is about commiserating over the fact that an event like this is still needed.

Events will be held around the country, the largest being in Sydney. Hundreds of women are expected to descend upon Town Hall for a series of talks and a public vigil where women will be encouraged to get vocal.

It is about solidarity. It is about coming out and saying violence against women is not something that should be kept quiet or private and we’re going to take to the streets and talk about it because nobody else is, event organiser and member of the Sydney University women’s collective, Gabe Cavanagh said.

Unfortunately though, this year we’re not saying that things are different, we’re saying that things are the same and that’s pretty horrifying.

We’re continuing on with the same struggle, and part of the problem is that there hasn’t been change. What we’re saying is, that it’s 30 years of the same struggle. The feminist movement was talking about violence against women 30 years ago and was coming up with solutions 30 years ago, and we’re still not getting the support that we need from the government and we’re still not getting the change that we need in the community.

The major focus of this year’s event will be to push for greater community awareness and grassroots reaction in response to the government’s intervention in the Northern Territory.
Speakers on the night will include Christine Robinson of the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre, Barbara Shaw of the Intervention Rollback Action Group and Karen Willis of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre. They will discuss the benefits of encouraging a local feminist reaction to the situation in the Northern Territory rather than a government-imposed scheme.

There has been a national dialogue around the violence against women in the Northern Territory and what we wanted to say is yes, this is a tragedy and we need a real response, a feminist and community response rather than martial law, Cavanagh said.

We hope to see as many people as possible, because violence affects every woman in Australia in some way. We are all impacted because we have sisters, or parents or lovers who have been affected by violence. And the fight in the Northern Territory is our fight too, because we are all human and we all deserve to be in a world that’s free from violence.

info: Reclaim the Night will be held on Friday, October 31 at the Sydney Town Hall from 6.30pm. For more information head to http://reclaimthenight-sydney.com/.

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