Roughly 200 women clogged the streets of Downtown on Saturday night to march as part of the 2012 Take Back the Night Rally to take a stand in violence against women.
Beginning at 7 pm at Dieppe Park, men and women of all ages and backgrounds met for a rally, which included several speakers from the community and elsewhere. Jaclyn Miles, Miss Canada 2012, tearfully shared her experiences of sexual assault and domestic abuse. She spoke about how our system treats those who have suffered through situations such as hers, how it is “traumatic to relive the things that happened to you, to be blamed for it”. Miles’ goal is to open people’s eyes to the situation of domestic abuse, and to change the question from “Why does she stay?” to “Why doesn’t he stop?”
The crowd was enthusiastic in its’ response when Miles forcefully proclaimed her determination to get justice for what happened to her, and what started out as a speech full of tragic tales ended with a sense of power and camaraderie amongst those assembled.
Joining Miles was Miss Universe Canada 2011, Chelsae Durocher. Her message centered around a proposal to strengthen our community. She believes that it is crucial for women to accept each other, despite differences, because no matter what else, we are all women, and only through solidarity can we fight against those who wish to oppress us.
Local NDP MPP Taras Natyshak spoke for a few minutes as well, mentioning his participation in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, where he donned pumps and went for a stroll, as a reminder of the discomfort women feel when they are objectified.
After other speakers and a performance by the radical cheerleaders, participants took to the streets, declaring to all within earshot that women refuse to be held to these ideas of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, that men need to be held accountable for their actions.
Acting as silent witnesses, men holding candles and silhouette cut-outs of women stood on street corners lining the march, symbolizing their dedication to the cause and their promise to call out men who, in the words of Natyshak, “just don’t get it”. These men understand that equality for women is not an issue that affects only females, and that making the world a better place for one group of people improves it for everyone.
As Terrence, one of the silent witnesses, put it, he was out on Saturday for “humanity” and is ready to “proudly call out the guys who need it”.
All of the women participating had their own reasons for being there, or for helping run the event, but all of them were thrilled with the jovial atmosphere of women ecstatic about standing up for something they believe in.
Dante has been helping out with Take Back the Night for four years, and in her fuzzy pink hat she was ecstatic with the way to the rally has grown, and how well the entire event came off.
Joanna is a social work student at the University of Windsor, and as part of the Border City Brawlers roller derby team (who were marshalling the march) she was happy to be out exercising her “social responsibility towards equality”.
Even Windsor Police got involved, turning on the lights to the cars that line Goyeau outside of the station. When one officer was asked why they chose to do this, he replied simply, curtly, “Support.”
Other onlookers got involved too, cheering the women as they passed various patios of downtown bars, and drivers were respectful of the march, allowing it to fill the streets and honking their endorsement as they waited.
The night can be heralded as a huge success in bringing together members of the community, and in letting women who are or have been victims of abuse know that it is okay for them to come forward, that their silence is worse than their cries.