The Night’s Taken Back Again at First In-Person March Since 2019

The first Take Back the Night march dates back to 1978 in San Francisco, but after all this time the goal remains the same no matter where you march: to protest violence against women, particularly sexual assault. That has been expanded to all victims of gender-based violence whether they’re women, queer, non-binary, or men, but for the first time in a couple of years they all got together again to “Take Back the Night.”

Like in years before, people gathered in-person at Marianne’s Park near the river for this event. For the last couple of years, Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis has hosted a virtual event live from the park, but over 100 people attended the park Thursday evening as the rally point for the march, but the pre-march speeches were shared on Facebook Live.

“This year, we witnessed a really momentous rollback of human rights south of the border, rights that many people who have a uterus thought were locked in and secure,” said Cindy McMann, the new public educator for Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. “But the road to human rights is not a one-way street, and when the institutions that grant them remain unchanged, then they can give and take away our rights to our bodies, even if, as in the U.S., the majority of the population doesn’t even want reproductive rights revoked.”

“We chose to focus tonight on the connections between reproductive justice and violence against women and gender diverse people to call attention to the increased harms that we face when our political and legal and justice systems refuse to recognize our inherent rights to control our bodies, and to live free of violence,” McMann added.

This was in specific reference to the June decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn the right to a legal abortion, the case known as Roe V. Wade, but the fight for the right to bodily autonomy goes back even further than that one 1973 court case.

“I recognize that my ability to live and work on this land is the result of historical and ongoing processes of colonization that has included the sexual and reproductive oppression of Indigenous peoples,” said University of Guelph postdoctoral scholar Jacqueline Potvin, the other speaker at the event. “I recognized my responsibility to ensure that my work as an advocate for reproductive justice, and for ending sexual violence, includes ending the reproductive and sexual violence committed against Indigenous peoples.”

It’s important to note that Take Back the Night takes place this year a little over a week before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“For me, Take Back the Night represents a powerful means of reconnecting with community and reminding myself that feminism is not just a way of thinking and understanding the world. It’s an embodied activist practice,” Potvin added.

“Tonight’s theme, ‘Our Bodies, Our Rights, Our Streets’ highlights how sexual violence and reproductive injustice are inherently intertwined. Although they’re experienced in many different ways, they both represent the way that women and those who do not conform to dominant gender roles or binaries are denied control of power over our bodies, and hence our lives.”

You can watch the live stream below:

The march left Marianne’s Park and went up Gordon Street to downtown Guelph where it ended in St. George’s Square.

If you’re experiencing, or have experienced physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse and/or stalking, or you’re a concerned friend or family member of someone who’s been abused, you can called Women in Crisis’ support phone line and TTY line at 519-836-5710 or 1-800-265-7233.

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