Women and gender non-conforming individuals from across the GTHA rallied together Thursday evening on Sept. 28 in front of city hall to support one another in the annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) march. Organized by the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area) (SACHA), TBTN 2017 marks the 37th chapter in SACHA’s history of successful TBTN events.
Organizer Erin Crickett said she was overjoyed to see the increase of public support since the first event in 1981.
“Since the mid-eighties, we’ve had hundreds and thousands of women here,” said Crickett.
“When Take Back The Night started in Hamilton, The Spectator would not print the word ‘rape,’” said Crickett. “People didn’t believe this was something that actually happened to women, kids and young men from our communities … we’ve come a really long way in the 27 years we’ve been doing Take Back The Night in Hamilton.”
Men were allowed to show support at the pre-march rally but were asked to restrict themselves to Gore Park. With TBTN being a historically female event, measures like these are put in place to preserve the underlying message of the march. Crickett says that in today’s political climate, now more than ever is the best time for all-female events like TBTN to take place.
“We’re in our current culture that has got political leaders who say disgusting, rape-y things. It’s become totally normalized,” said Crickett. “It’s important that we as activists show that there is a huge base of individuals in Hamilton that don’t think like that and don’t agree with that.”
From 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. those involved were able to visit information booths pertaining to support groups and organizations dedicated to assisting women and gender non-conforming individuals. Issues such as sexual harassment, domestic and public abuse, psychological abuse, lack of emotional support and gender wage gaps were metaphorically and literally on the table for those seeking support or general information.
Preferring to be addressed only by her first name, Hamiltonian and TBTN attendant Jillian said she was proud to be part of the crowd during the pre-march rally and felt strong seeing so many women coming together.
“I feel both empowered and humbled to be around all the people that are supporting the same causes as me and who understand the ideas and thoughts I have every day,” said Jillian. “It’s essential to get the word out and get people talking … victims need to know people are fighting for them.”
As the women of Hamilton marched down the streets under the night sky, their cause was clear. Through solidarity generated at events like these, Canadian women can share support as well as make their voices heard.