September 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 12  

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Women take night back, men not invited

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

London's women are set to reclaim the streets tonight as part of an effort to eliminate violence and affirm the independence of women.

Take Back the Night, a march in honour of the women killed in the Montreal Massacre, is a symbolic move to show women can feel safe at night without a male escort, said Karla Baker, coordinator of the Women's Issues Network, one of the groups involved with the Women's Events Committee, the organizing body of the march.

The hour-long march is for women and children only and men will be asked to show their support for the march by lining the sidewalks, Baker said, adding this was so women do not have to feel dependent on their male escorts for safety.

"I don't think we are trying to perpetuate a stereotype," she said when asked if making the march women-only would stigmatize females as defenseless. "The reality is many women don't feel safe."

"I do agree with the division because it makes the statement that women can be independent," said University Students' Council VP-campus issues Adrienne Kennedy, adding if there were no separation, it would create the notion that women are unable to walk alone at night.

Kennedy said she was optimistic the march would shift some attitudes towards female independence.

"If one night of the year women are made to feel comfortable and safe, I say congratulations," said Monda Halpern, a history professor at Western. "Women are made to feel like visitors or foreigners on the street," she added.

Halpern said having a women-only march makes sense. "I don't think there should be any shame," she said. "I think the march would compromise itself if men were incorporated in any other way."

Western's pre-rally for Take Back the Night starts on University College Hill today at 4:45 p.m. WIN, the Women's Studies Student Council and Queer Western Organization will speak to the crowd before participants head to London's Peace Gardens. The main march will start at 6:45 p.m.



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