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22 October, 2020

Reclaim the night

Locals are asked to wear purple and meet outside Cairns Museum tonight at 6pm for the annual Reclaim the Night March which raises awareness of sexual assault and gender based violence.

By Nicole Gibson

Photo credit: Nicci Reid-Bell - Cairns Planning Team, Reclaim the Night

Seven of the region’s leading support services collaborated to organise Reclaim the Night 2020 including Cairns Sexual Assault Service, Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service and Ruth’s Women’s Shelter.

 This year’s theme focuses on consent and raises awareness of its importance by using the hashtags #affirmativeconsent and #enthusiasticconsent.

 Reclaim the Night Cairns Planning Committee Coordinator Nicci Reid-Bell said media attention around sexual assault and gender based violence in recent years has highlighted a lack of understanding when it comes to the issue.

 “Everything we’re seeing in the media and with the #metoo movement is really highlighting that it’s time to have that conversation around what consent actually is, what it means to each of us and to the people it’s affecting,” Ms Reid-Bell said.

 Street theatre, music and performances will be used to communicate issues surrounding consent as well as a community art project.

 The project called Window of Consent shares messages about the meaning of consent as well as support for victims via postcards displayed in the window of Cairns Museum.

 Organisers say sexual violence in the region impacts the ability of women to move freely and without fear throughout Cairns during the day or night.

 “The event is two days after the second anniversary of Toyah Cordingley’s murder so it is an issue that’s really close to Cairns and is still happening,” said Ms Reid-Bell.

 The event also comes as agencies report an increase in the demand for services as a result of COVID-19.

 Ms Reid-Bell said during lockdown a lack of access to safe reporting meant many women could not seek help.

 “If something is happening at home women are not able to leave the house or they’re not able to reach out (because) they don’t have those windows of safety,” Ms Reid-Bell said.

 “Now that we’re coming out of lockdown we are seeing waitlists increase.”

 Reclaim the Night is a trans inclusive event recognising that gendered violence affects female identified and gender fluid people. For more details visit the Reclaim the Night Cairns Facebook page.

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