Why we need to take back the night
Take Back the Night refers to a movement, which aims to empower women by holding a series of marches and events at night, during which women walk the streets and reclaim their right to safety and security. The movement originated in Europe around the 1970’s, and soon spread to the United States; 1976 saw the first Take Back the Night event in New York. The movement endeavors to unite women who have survived sexual assault and refuse to remain quiet about it. It celebrates healing from trauma and assault, and strongly condemns victim blaming. As a public protest, it has gained worldwide popularity, especially in India post the Delhi gang rape in 2012.
We as individuals need to take back the night; the recent spate of sexual violence in India and abroad, where women and children alike, have been subjected to heinous and unwarranted violence. Justice for most survivors of sexual assault appears to be a distant reality, as victim blaming and slut shaming take precedence, especially if the victimized individual refuses to keep quiet about what she has endured. Society as a whole is unaccustomed to women speaking out about their rights, and is in the process of acknowledging them as equal citizens who have rights.
Take back the Night is one of many women’s empowerment centric movements which is highly necessary as it draws attention to the plight of women around the world, and highlights the need for justice for those who have endured sexual violence. While the media, non-profit organizations, and other agencies have done some advocacy work, the need of the hour is to promote more consistent reportage of crimes against women, and to bring forward more voices of assault
survivors. More voices equal greater solidarity, and therefore, a stronger, more united movement.
Among the many issues, which are spoken about during Take Back the Night events, are the need for laws which are meant to protect survivors of rape. A recent Take back the night event in Delhi expressed solidarity and condolences with Jyoti Singh Pandey, a young student who was gang raped in December 2012, and later succumbed to her injuries.
The lack of adequate laws,no stringent punishments for rapists, and need to sensitize law making authorities about handling sexual assault cases, has also been highlighted at these events, through posters, pamphlets, street plays and speeches by influential activists. While a majority of Take Back the Night events have been restricted to a women-only audience, events in India and elsewhere have recently seen a steady influx of male supporters who come forward in solidarity with the movement.
While movements like Take Back the Night are relevant and do serve the purpose of raising awareness on issues pertaining to sexual violence against women, it is also important to keep in mind that the events need to be supplemented with a workable action plan, which will serve to take the objectives of the campaign forward in a productive manner. Marching an sloganeering therefore, do form an integral part of any human rights movement, and it is hoped that the suggestions and recommendations suggested at events are followed through.