Women’s Centre prepares to Take Back the Night

Campus News

On the Nov. 27, the UVSS Women’s Centre will host Take Back the Night (TBTN). As part of a greater global event, TBTN is a movement to stop sexualized violence in all its forms. Annual events are held in over 30 countries in the forms of direct action and protest. Here on campus, there will be student guest speakers, a rally, a march, and a vigil starting at 4:30 p.m. in front of the SUB.

“Going back through a historical, or herstorical, lens,” said Jasmindra Jawanda, the outreach and communications co-ordinator for the Centre, “in 1975 there was a young microbiologist [Susan Alexander Speeth] who was walking home late at night and was murdered about a block and a half from where she lived. So, right after that incident, they decided to have the first Take Back the Night [march].”

Prior to Speeth’s death in Philadelphia, there were other events attributed to TBTN. In San Francisco, for instance, protests were held against pornography in 1973.

Greg Atkinson, the Director of External Relations at the UVSS, is supporting the event on behalf of the UVSS. As Atkinson said, “We’ve extended an invitation to Jamie Cassels, for example, hoping that he comes out. Some local politicians as well, such as local MPs, and mayors. That would be really great to see some influential community members come out and see this and see the fact that it’s important and take notice of that.”

As Jawanda explained, the event began by protesting violence towards women, but has grown to include sexualized violence in all its forms. “Really, the event at that time was for women to feel empowered, engaged, and walk in solidarity at night to take back the night,” she said, further adding, “Naturally, because of where we are today in society, and the issues that we deal with, it’s a broader lens than what it started off with. So, basically violence at all levels, and violence towards all peoples.”

Though there are annual events in both Victoria and Vancouver, Jawanda says this is the first event of its kind at UVic for nearly a decade. “As a new co-ordinator,” she said, “I started in July but I did my research in terms of the Women’s Centre. I’ve taken the lead on this event and I believe it was seven to 10 years ago that there was the last Take Back the Night event, through the Women’s Centre.”

Though the reason for this gap is unclear, Jawanda speculated that it may have to do with the short contracts and high turnover rate of co-ordinators.

“We’re hoping to have this as an annual event,” she said. “Hopefully this can set the precedent for it to be every year from here on.” Atkinson is also hopeful; he said, “I think it would be great to see it turn into an annual event.”

Though men are sometimes not allowed to join in global TBTN events, Jawanda wanted to stress that everyone is welcome at their rally.