Take Back the Night will be held:
Thursday: Women's Speak Out starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Food Court
Men's Speak Out Starts at 6 p.m. at the Oval
Women's March to Old Town at 7 p.m.
Join Rally at 8 p.m. at Old Town Square
For more information:
1973. Women in Germany take to the streets to protest rape, sexual assault and murder. 1976. Women in Belgium march in front of the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women to protest the ways in which violence permeates the lives of women all over the world. 1978. More than 5,000 women from 30 states come to San Francisco to march in the streets at night and demand a world where women do not have to be afraid of the dark.
What are all these women doing in the streets? They are participating in Take Back the Night, an international event where people come together with a collective voice and demand our rights to be safe from gender violence. Women march for the freedom of movement during the night, the right to live without fear and without male escorts. Since 1973, the voices have only continued to grow as the struggle continues. Incidents of rape and sexual assault have decreased, but not enough. In fact, we live in a world where every three minutes someone is raped (U.S. Department of Justice), and nine out of 10 times the victim is female (National Crime Victimization Survey 2004). If we want to stop this, we must make our voices louder!
Hence why Take Back the Night has continued to be an annual event at CSU for the past 12 years. The movement is extremely important on college campuses, as females between the ages of 12 and 24 are at the greatest risk for rape and/or sexual assault (Department of Justice 2001). As found in a study completed by the Department of Justice in 2000, out of every 10,000 college women, 350 are victims of rape. In a university of CSU's size (approx 25,000) that means up to 875 women on our campus are potential victims. And this is not even addressing the rates of male and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual sexual assault rates.
But we do not have to sit back and accept this as inevitable. I participated in my first Take Back the Night march three years ago, when I first came to CSU as a lost and voiceless freshman. I came as a woman who did not understand the depth of the pain a rape can cause a person. I came as someone angry about the situation, but thinking I was powerless to stop it. I came as someone seeking a way to end the violence.
Little did I know that my experience that night would rid me of my naivet� and place the power of change in my hands. At the speak-out, I heard woman after woman get up and share her story, her emotions and her thoughts. One of those souls who was brave enough to speak in front of a group of women she did not even know was only 15.
It was an emotionally draining event, and at the end, we had all bonded in the process. And then … we marched. We took all of those emotions, the anger, the sadness, the pain and channeled it into shouts and cheers and movement. We took to the street, right at sunset. Together we were quite the visual, more than 200 women marching alone in the streets demanding an end to the violence and fear. No one should be afraid! We were powerful, and we where making our voices heard.
After the march I did not feel voiceless any more. I had found a power deep inside myself that I had never realized was there. It was my power to raise my voice and demand change, it was the realization that I could change the way things are, and it was the discovery that I was not alone.
In 2003, only 39 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law-enforcement officials, about 1 out of 3 (NCVS 2003). This is because victims are afraid to raise up their voices because of the stigma they will face. However, it is silence that perpetuates the problem. Take Back the Night is a way to break that silence and end the fear. In the words of Audre Lorde, "Your silence will not protect you." Do not be afraid to find your voice.
Join us Thursday and Take Back the Night!
Emily Hornback is a junior anthropology and Spanish major.