Two separate women’s rights events have occurred in Exeter over the past couple of weeks: the Dead Women Walking Devon March (25th November) and Reclaim the Night (1st December). Both events, though different in the issues they intend to highlight, are united in their aims of raising awareness of concerns regarding women’s safety.
Both also fall during the UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, beginning on the 25th November (The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and ending on the 10th December (Human Rights Day).
Both events, though different in the issues they intend to highlight, are united in their aims of raising awareness of concerns regarding women’s safety.
Dead Women Walking Devon
On 25th November women marched through the centre of Exeter wearing red ponchos to raise awareness of female victims of domestic violence and the two women who are murdered in the UK every week by a man that they know.
The march, organised by Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE), was open only to women, although children were also allowed to participate. It was conducted in silence, with participants handing out leaflets explain the aims of the event to members of the public.
two women are murdered in the UK every week by a man that they know.
Starting at St Sidwell’s Community Centre, the march ended at Northernhay gardens. There, a vigil was held, in which the names of all women killed in the past year by known men were read out in turn.
This event in Devon follows the success of recent marches held in London and Manchester, the first of which took place in 2014. A sister Dead Women Walking March also took place on the 25th November in Manchester.
Reclaim the Night Exeter
The Reclaim the Night march took place on the evening of 1st December, taking a route through the centre of town to rally in Bedford Square at 8pm.
The march, open to all, sought to highlight safety issues surrounding women in public spaces, and encouraged Exeter residents to “[j]oin us in demanding women and girls the right to be safe on our streets”.
The march has become an annual event in Exeter, with similar events taking place in Cornwall, Nottingham and Sheffield.
The Exeter Reclaim the Night team explained the particular relevance of the 2018 event:
“This year’s march was particularly rousing as it saw the launch of Devon and Cornwall Police new approach to sex or gender based hate incidents and hate crimes. The new approach to police recordings will see the police now logging if crimes and incidents were motivated by prejudice or hostility because of sex or gender.”
“It was a busy Saturday evening and the march was seen and heard by onlookers out for dinner and Christmas shopping.”
Describing the event, organisers said that “It was a busy Saturday evening and the march was seen and heard by onlookers out for dinner and Christmas shopping. The march ended in a rally at Bedford Square with speakers, poetry performances and the Devon and Cornwall Police sex and gender hate crime launch.”