Candlelight March Gives Power Back to Women
"Take Back the Night" seeks to educate about violence toward women
March 9, 2004 4:44 PM
A group of mostly women gathered around Malcolm X Plaza Monday night, with candles in one hand and whistles and noisemakers in the other, to “Take Back the Night.”
The purpose of the march, coordinated by SF State’s Sexual Abuse Free Environment (S.A.F.E.) Place, was to help empower and educate people about violence against women.
“Most women are too afraid to go out at night," said Nina Jo Smith, coordinator at S.A.F.E. Place. "This is a way of getting a whole lot of people together and go out and take back the night ... being loud and really present and visible as women at night.”
The first “Take Back the Night” march in the United States can be traced back to San Francisco in 1978. But the rapes and murders of 43 women in the Green River area outside Seattle, Wash., refocused attention on the march more than 20 years ago.
Ginger Martin, the evening’s guest speaker from the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, attended one of the first marches in Seattle with 150 people to stand up against violence and to remember a high school friend who was a victim in the Green River murders.
“We basically took over the streets shouting. No one was going to tell us where we were going to be or how we were going to be,” said Martin of the Seattle march. “It was a united group of women who got together to be inclusive and support one another in the right to say no and to take back their life.”
Cheers and whistles erupted as Martin yelled and urged everyone at the conclusion of her speech: “Take back the night! Take back the night! Take back the night!"
The event served as an outlet for people to go out, be united and express their thoughts and feelings.
“Being a woman, it really hit home. I have friends who have been involved in domestic violence and even rape, so it’s very personal. It’s something that I can relate to,” said Rowena Fontanos, 20, majoring in social work.
Sexual assault pertains to all people, regardless of gender. According to Martin, everyone is susceptible to rape. It is an assault based on power and control.
“As a male, I feel safer than a woman would. It’s a male privilege, one that I haven’t been conscious of until recently,” says S.A.F.E. Place intern John Aquino, a graduate student in counseling.
The S.A.F.E. Place promotes awareness of all types of violence, whether it is sexual assault or domestic violence against women or men.
“We’re going to keep doing it until the word gets out, just to protect ourselves and everyone around us and to make the campus safe for everyone,” says Radhika Bajaria, 22, a psychology major.
» S.A.F.E. Place provides many resources, such as counseling, prevention and referrals to outside agencies for further assistance. It's located in the Student Services Building, Room 205. All cases will be held private and confidential. (415) 338-2819
Take Back the Night
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