Taking a stand

Take Back the Night posponed, not cancelled

Annie Chau says public education is an important part of preventing violence against women.
Annie Chau says public education is an important part of preventing violence against women.

A little rain can’t stop women on a quest to reclaim the streets. Annie Chau, a community educator at the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK) helped organize this year’s Take Back the Night event.

She said that last night’s rally was rained out but that it’s been rescheduled for next Thursday, Sept. 23.

“When it’s raining like this and wet like this we thought it would be best to maximize all the efforts for this event for another time,” she said.

The event is a 30-year old rally where women and children take to the streets to escape violence and find their voice.

“There’s a stat out there that’s extremely shocking. It says four out of five women have been either sexually or physically abused,” Chau said, “Many of us live with this fear, this threat.”

“The idea is to finally have one night where you can walk freely and be safe. The threat of being free from violence has not been achieved yet. The key is collaboration and to get people engaged.” Engagement is one of the main reasons Chau said they decided to postpone the event.

“Take Back the Night is important to people who usually know and participate in the event,” she said. “These participants will always attend no matter what the weather is like. However, the event this year is different as we want to be as visible as we can, so we can engage new people into the issue.”

“We thought it would be difficult to control our presentation, [which] we are going to be projecting on to the buildings downtown,” Chau said, referring to the multimedia presentation and the speakers that were planned on being used for the rally.

“The lights and the music wouldn’t be as engaging during the night because of the weather. We really need to make sure that the efforts being put into this event are fully being optimized as best as it could be,” she said.

Take Back the Night is an annual event that takes place at the local and international level. Last year over 300 participants were involved in Kingston’s event.

“We are putting more effort into it this year. We are making it really big, really loud. We did a test run and people had noticed us on the street. So we’re hoping to make a big scene and that’s the point of it,” Chau said. “We want to reclaim the streets so they can feel safe again … at least for one moment in time and hopefully that will help engage more women.” Chau said that the event started over 30 years ago in Belgium as a result of internal crimes against women.

“It later really took off in USA, Australia and here in Canada. I think it’s sort of bigger here,” she said, adding that typically in Canada Sexual Assault Centres organize the event.

Participants are encouraged to bring noisemakers to the rally to help attract attention.

“We think pots and pans are very symbolic noise makers,” she said. “Particularly [in the case of] domestic violence, the wife economically depends on the husband. So the idea is, let’s take these pots and pans and make noise.” Chau said the event is a great opportunity for Queen’s students to get engaged in a relevant student issue and to network with other organizations–and not just for women.

“In a lot of other communities the event does include men. At this time we ask men to cheer on the women during the rally. We want to ensure that the focus is on women and children,” she said, adding that men in the past have been very supportive and have respectfully remained as rally spectators.

Chau said the postponed event will not be any different from the one originally intended.

“Everything will be much more fine-tuned,” she said. “We’re just going to have to be much freer with our projection show and hopefully we’ll bring more people out because of the better weather.”

The event is scheduled to take place in Confederation Basin at City Hall, with the open-mic and rally starting at 7 p.m., followed by the march, ending the night with a concert from local artist Emily Fennell.

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