Back to lifestyle

Reclaim The Night: Women United, Will Never Be Defeated

By Vidya Ramesh

Wednesday 12 April 2017 Student journalists

This time last month I stewarded Reclaim the Night in Cambridge, one of the many national rallies against street violence and sexual harassment against women. This time last year I presented a paper on sexual harassment and assault in British institutions of higher education, which I had co-authored with a fellow member of my University’s student-run political think tank. This time two years ago, a survey conducted by my university’s Women’s Campaign and student newspaper revealed that 28.5 per cent of respondents had been sexually assaulted and a further 3 per cent being subjected to assault by penetration.

The cry against sexual violence towards women on our streets is growing louder and louder. Voices of solidarity are being channelled into ever more demonstrative signs of action. Over 500 people attended Reclaim the Night, with our incoming Women’s Officer opening the march with a stirring call: “Embrace your anger because it is meaningful and it is constructive. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s not.”

We now even have an International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, heralded by the United Nations. Yet the pomp and circumstance ensconced within the inauguration of such events extinguishes on a cold dark night on a protest rally in the outskirts of Cambridge, when you witness the looks of incomprehension and ridicule that passers-by give you as you march and holler out your indignant chants.

Last academic term, a series of assaults were attempts around the Humanities Faculty Block. This term, we marched in solidarity, but also in mixed sentiments of hope and fear that they will never happen again.

 

Hi there, my name is Vidya and I’m an undergraduate student reading History at the University of Cambridge. I grew up in Manchester, the birthplace of the Guardian and Suffragette movement; it was impossible not be continually aware of the power of activism, solidarity, and liberal politics. On campus I try to channel these incredibly charged ideas into practical action, particularly in regards to the welfare of students who identify as women. As a director for a student-run think-tank, The Wilberforce Society, I have overseen events on raising the participation of women in public policy, while also co-authoring a policy paper on sexual assault policies within higher education institutions. As a campaign manager for my University’s Women’s Campaign I am also organising a programme of activities to help female students tackle anxiety. In my spare time I enjoy powerlifting (still at a novice level, sadly), as well as living ethically to the best of my ability, such as by following a vegan lifestyle (#vegangainz). As an NUS Journalist I hope to raise awareness of the events taking place on campus that centre around the three concepts I mentioned before: activism, solidarity, and liberal politics. Whether in the form of an intersectional feminist reading group, to a disabilities rally outside the students’ union, you will be sure to hear it hot-off-the-press from me!