The streets of Montreal were rocked on Friday night as hundreds marched through, calling for an end to gendered violence and discrimination.
Take Back the Night is a global organization that seeks to expose the issues of violence against gendered minorities. Internationally known, the march has been an annual event in Montreal. This year’s march, on Nov. 23, was organized by the Centre for Gender Advocacy’s A Safer Concordia Campaign.
“We are marching for a safer community, free of harassment, sexual abuse, and assaults,” wrote the Centre for Gender Advocacy on their website. “We are reclaiming our right to be free of violence and to walk without fear, any time of day or night.”
After a passionate speech on the values of consent by Mirha-Soleil Ross, a Montreal transsexual videographer, performer and sex worker; the droves of participants walked from Bethune square and made their way down St. Catherine Street towards the McGill campus. Men, women and children carried their signs under the pouring rain, shouting “Take back the night.” Julie Michaud, the Center for Gender Advocacy’s administrative coordinator, was at the front with a megaphone in hand.
“We want to feel safe in our streets,” said Julia Nadeau, speaking for A Safer Concordia. Discrimination against minorities, whether against women, or disabled and transgendered people, is a widespread issue plaguing Montreal and has been a longstanding problem in the Western world. As stated on the Take Back the Night website, “at least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, forced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime by a partner, relative, friend, stranger, employer, and/or colleague,” while less than 50 per cent of these crimes are reported to the police.
Gendered violence is not limited solely to physical abuse; psychological violence is common, and the widespread fear of walking alone late at night is among the issues that organizations like the Centre for Gender Advocacy are trying to bring to light.
The march was not as big of a success as it was in prior years, though. According to Michaud, the heavy rain heavily affected the attendance for the walk.
“I’ve been told we’re about 175 people,” she said.
Despite the smaller numbers, there were many passersby taking pictures, cheering, and choosing to participate in the march, adding to its momentum.
The event came to a close inside McGill’s campus due to the rain, with hot chocolate being passed around. A room was shared by those who had decided to stick around for the remainder of the night, and each guest speaker was readily available to answer questions and further inform those present.
Since Take Back the Night’s first documented event in 1975, the organization has continued to raise awareness on gendered violence. The annual marches have become internationally known as a way to speak out against such issues.