Hundreds of women from Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Hackney and Croydon marched with up to 2,000 others from across the country to draw attention to threats facing women, such as domestic abuse and low prosecution rates for crimes such as rape.
The women marched from Whitehall Place to Kings Cross on November 26 as part of the Reclaim the Night march, organised by the London Feminist Network.
The campaign has been running for seven years, however this year was the first time the issue of government cuts was also addressed. Feminist and women’s groups say that the cuts will disproportionately affect women, particularly single mothers.
Newington Green resident Rebecca Mordan, who helped organise the march, said: “We really want to draw attention to the low conviction rate for rape. We want to draw attention to the fact that two women per week are murdered by a male partner or ex-partner… and we also want to draw attention to the fact that the cuts are an enormous danger to women.
“175,000 part-time jobs have been cut in the last year and between two thirds and three quarters of them will be women”, Mordan added.
Geraldine Evans, of the South London Fawcett group said that according to responses to a survey recently conducted in Lewisham, many women are concerned about the abolition of Sure Start, losing child benefit and the closure of nurseries and libraries.
Louisa Steele, 26, from Hackney, echoed these concerns saying that she hoped the march would cause the government to reconsider its position on Sure Start and improve equal opportunities for women in the workplace.
The protesters received mixed reactions from the public. Many of the people who were out in the West End on Saturday looked on bemused, while others took photos and some shouted their support. As the demonstration passed one pub, all the women came outside to applaud the passing marchers.
However some people were less sympathetic. A group of men who were stood outside drinking became hostile towards the women and started shouting abuse, causing the police to intervene. Another group of men began chanting sexist songs and slogans as the demonstrators approached.
The evening culminated in a rally at the Camden Centre, which was attended by both men and women, with speeches given by Femi Otitoju of Million Women Rise and Estelle Hart, the NUS Women’s Officer, among others.
Reclaim the Night follows the ‘Don’t turn back time’ march of November 19. The EastLondonLines full report on the march can be read here.
Filmed and edited by Jane McCallion, Claire Shaw and Raziye Akkoc