Women across Rotherham gathered together for ‘Reclaim The Night’ yesterday evening, an event to raise awareness about violence against women.

The attendees came armed with signs and gathered at charity Rotherham Rise’s Hygge Café at 6pm and marched the streets of the town centre. 

Councillor Emma Hoddinott (left) and Anna Birley (right) marched with a ‘Reclaim The Night’ banner.

The event was hosted by Labour and Co-operative Councillor Emma Hoddinott was moved online last year due to the pandemic and now celebrates it’s six-year anniversary.

Councillor Hoddinott said: “It felt timely to join this national and international movement to have our own Reclaim The Night in Rotherham, to use it as an opportunity to raise issues about attitudes towards women such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

“It gives us the space to come together to hear from people with relevant experience and I guess it keeps us motivated to combat those issues. 

“It’s a very inclusive event to come together once a year in solidarity and companionship and talk about those issues in a safe way.”

The march was followed by speeches given by numerous activists, which included Co-Founder of the Reclaim These Streets movement, Anna Birley and Rotherham Rise CEO, Sue Lynne.

Councillor Hoddinott continued: “It gives us a chance to reflect and makes us realise there is a long way to go before we get equality and change some of these attitudes towards women. Especially with the Sarah Everard case, it did feel like we had gone backwards, there is so much we still need to do.”

The Reclaim The Night movement has taken place in Rotherham since 2015, with an initial turnout of 100 women and the event is part of Reclaim These Streets, a larger national movement promoting women’s safety and equality.

Women across Rotherham came together to celebrate the six year anniversary of Reclaim The Night.

Anna Birley, 32, who is also Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Lambeth council, said: “When women come together we’re more powerful than if we speak out on our own. We’re showing the world that the night is our time and we won’t be made to feel unwelcome or afraid to be in them.

“I think it keeps the issue of violence against women and girls high on the agenda and it reminds people that it’s not been fixed. There needs to be more done to change our culture and to change our criminal justice system.”

The event was held in correspondence with International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.

Sue Lynne, CEO at Rotherham Rise, said: “This year has highlighted the dangers women and girls face on our UK streets, but as many women and girls will know, these dangers have always been there and are prevalent; this means that having a platform to create awareness is essential. 

“Through awareness, we can all take responsibility to support, challenge, and highlight the issues to push for change.

“We all have a right to feel safe and practice our freedoms, such as walking home on our own without being in danger or feeling threatened.”

The group marched through Rotherham town centre and held banners up in protest.

This news came after the Office of National Statistics uncovered in August, nearly half of women felt unsafe walking alone after dark.

Alexa Bacon, an attendee at the event, said: “It’s really important to have this in Rotherham, especially with everything in the news at the moment with the recent spiking in clubs. I think it’s vital to have an event where women can say we own the night.

“It’s also nice for them to know that other women are hearing their voice and listening to them and their issues, highlighting how women want to do something to help this on-going problem.”