BY EMMIE SIROKY
“Two, four, six, eight, no more date rape!” was the call at this year’s take back the night event in Kitchener. Downtown was flooded with over 500 people for the 32nd annual Take Back the Night march and rally on Sept. 17.
The walk was held to raise awareness for women, children and transgender people who aren’t able to walk down the street at night for fear that they may be attacked.
Sara Casselman, the public relations manager at the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC), said this was one of their biggest years yet.
“Sexual violence has been on the radar a lot the past year,” Casselman said.
There were over 629 sexual assaults reported in Waterloo Region in 2014. This has touched the community and the local colleges and universities, and was shown by the high attendance of students from Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier.
“We’re seeing a lot of increased community support and a lot of colleges engaged,” said Casselman. “It has a lot to do with the province’s sexual violence action plan. A lot is happening on campus to address this topic.”
The march itself was a women’s only event, to show that women don’t need to be escorted by a man at night, but inside city hall there was a men’s program put on by the male allies against sexual violence (MAASV).
“Violence against women is usually started by men,” said Conestoga College student Vincent Edemoni. “I feel that it’s very important for men to come out to this.”
Stephan Scoucie is the program co-ordinator for MAASV, which was launched in 2008 by SASC. The program is designed to show men that feminism isn’t just for women. MAASV does public education workshops for men and boys.
“Feminism fights for men too,” said Soucie. “If you want healthy girls you need healthy boys. You can’t do half of the equation and get the results you want.”
Whistles and hats were handed out at city hall as a way to show support for the cause. There were many safety precautions in place as well. A mobility van was driven behind walkers in case anyone needed to stop and people wearing green arm bands were available to speak to in case the walk brought forth troubling emotions.
The walk was led by the Tri-city Roller Girls, who showed up in full uniform, roller skates and all.
As the march began, local shop owners couldn’t help but stop what they were doing and step outside for a look. Local bar goers put down their drinks to head outside and cheer on the women marching. There were also posters in the hands of ever walker. This group of passionate women had a lot to say and wouldn’t be silenced. There were screams and chants throughout the crowd as the women took their 40-minute walk up King Street and back.
At city hall there was music being played by the Tala Drumming Group and the musician Jessie Treneer. After the walk there was lots of food and refreshments as well as a photo booth set up. This year included prizes for the largest group, the best dressed and the most creative idea.
The Sexual Assault Support Centre’s services are available to anyone who needs support at all times.