Michaela Ormrod, University of Lincoln Students’ Union’s Women’s Officer shares her reflections on marching through the streets of Lincoln in opposition to sexual violence and inequality.

If you happened to be walking through the streets of Lincoln on Wednesday night you may have noticed a crowd of students, eagerly chanting for their rights. If you’d have looked closer you would’ve noticed the excited grins as they fought to ‘reclaim their night’.

Photo: Liam O’Dell

I was one of those students and from within the crowd I felt so many emotions surrounding me. Anger, sadness, happiness. There was no right way to feel.

Every case of abuse, harassment or inequality is different and is a roller coaster of emotions for everyone involved, but last night we stood together. No-one noticed our gender or sexuality, instead we walked as people all fighting for the same cause: to say “no” to any form of violence.

In comparison to other cities this event may have seemed small, with just over 60 people involved, but it was such a giant step for the University of Lincoln and for Lincoln city as a whole because it was our first ever Reclaim The Night.

This is just one of the ways in which the University of Lincoln Students’ Union has got involved with spreading this important message which has been unspoken about for far too long.

The event was part of the #NeverOK campaign which has spread across campus over the past couple of weeks, showing zero tolerance to any form of inequality.

The positivity surrounding the whole event was undeniable. However, everyone was aware of why we were there and this loomed over us all as we waved our signs and glow-sticks in the air. Reaching out to every passer-by in our quest to raise awareness, that we do still need change and there is an issue that needs solving.

According to Rape Crisis England and Wales approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped each year within England and Wales and 1 in 5 women aged 15 to 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since aged 16.

All of these facts and so many more were heard at the rally leading up to the march itself and they were in my mind every step of the way.

We were all glad to be there but we all knew we shouldn’t have had to be. People should not be scared of walking alone at night. People should not be in fear of being raped, harassed or abused.

I felt one of the chants shouted over and over summed it up perfectly: “wherever we go, whatever we wear, yes means yes and no means no.”

We all have a right to be safe no matter what. But until then, we will fight for our right to Reclaim The Night.