This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event. They helped out by helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event. We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done. Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.
As a first-time Take Back the Night participant, I understood why this event needs to happen. What better way to raise awareness about sexual assault against women than to have a large group of them march through the main streets of Hamilton? Once I was there though, among these women united for the same cause, the importance of this event really hit home. For many women, this march was not only about raising awareness but also for empowering women as a collective unit, strong in numbers and spirit. This deeply resonated with me, as I continue to look back on the experience and feel privileged to have been apart of this experience.
During the march, it really dawned on me how vital the feeling of support and the availability of resources, such as this event and the various other services SACHA offers, are for survivors of sexual violence. This led me to consider the negative implications that insufficient funding can have on the availability of these services for women. Hamilton is lucky to have SACHA, as government funding for social services has continually decreased since the 1980’s due to the implementation of neo-liberal strategies, such as radical spending cuts and policy changes.
I was able to witness firsthand how important events like TBTN and organizations like SACHA are for survivors of sexual assault and their families and friends, as they aim to re-empower and support women. Government cutbacks to social service funding decrease the resources made available to these women by decreasing the amount of financial aide available to the organizations in their communities. It is discouraging to know that there are women out there who would greatly benefit from this experience like I was able to, but cannot because of restrictive policies and budgets. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Take Back the Night and felt that it was a truly empowering event that all women should be able to experience and benefit from.
More information regarding this and how it affects groups like SACHA can be found in the following article: Morrow, M., Hankivsky, O., & Varcoe, C. (2004). Women and violence: The effects of dismantling the welfare state. Critical Social Policy, 24(3), 358-384.)