Hundreds of women, members of the LGBT community and their allies have taken part in the fifth Reclaim the Night march against gender-based violence.
The organisers, who have welcomed the recommendations in the interim sexual offences report by retired appeal court judge Sir John Gillen, said it was vital to continue to struggle to end sexually motivated attacks and abuse.
One of the organisers, Elaine Crory thanked those who support changes to the law for coming along to the march to show support for safer streets.
She said: “The aim of the march was to raise awareness about sexual harassment and violence. We are calling for an end to the constant targeting of women and members of the LGBT community. We want to remind people that these issues aren’t going away and that as well as every high profile trial or sensational incident, harassment is an everyday reality for women and for LGBT people. While that continues to be true we will continue to march.”
A range of speakers addressed the crowd including Máiría Cahill, who accused a senior IRA man of repeatedly sexually abusing her as a teenager, alongside Laila Daya from Queen’s University African & Caribbean Society; Alexa Moore, Director of Transgender NI; Catriona O’Brien from Sex Workers Alliance Ireland and Rachel Watters, NUS-USI Women’s Officer.
The march, which marked the first day in 16 days of action addressing violence against women, was the fifth to be held in Belfast.
Co-organiser Danielle Roberts added: “Reclaim the Night was originally sparked by the Yorkshire Ripper murders when the police suggested they have a curfew for women out at night. The women objected to this and organised an opposition march.
“There is still an urgent need for Reclaim the Night because of countless reports of gender based violence in our society. Building on the history of Reclaim the Night Marches, we are continuing to raise our voices against street harassment and gender based violence.”
For more information about Reclaim the Night go to: https://www.facebook.com/RTNBelfast/