Scores take to streets of Hawick for Reclaim the Night protest
Scores of protesters took part in a march through Hawick on Monday night in a bid to raise awareness of violence against women in the region.
The Reclaim the Night event, organised by Galashiels-based Borders Rape Crisis Centre and the region’s LGBT Equality charity, attracted more than 110 supporters to its ninth annual march.
And that’s playing a huge part in encouraging victims to come forward for support, centre manager Suzie Stein believes.
“In the last financial year, we supported 203 survivors that accessed our service. At this moment, we have 111 survivors who are accessing support, but, unfortunately, just over 30 of those are on a waiting list.
“One of the biggest challenges is meeting the demand on our service.
“Year on year, we see an increase in the number of survivors needing support from us. That may not necessarily mean an increase in sexual violence, but there’s more of a culture out there where people feel more able to reach out and come forward to ask for support.
“We need to get the message out here that if there are people who have experienced sexual violence, we are here and can help them if needed.
“Marches like Reclaim the Night play a huge part in helping us let people know that.”
Monday’s night’s event saw 110 people march through Hawick, led by Dumfries-based band the Samba Sisters, armed with whistles, glow sticks and banners.
A reception followed at Tower Dykeside featuring addresses by Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol and her Hawick peer Clair Ramage.
Ms Stein added: “We were really delighted with the number of people that were there.
“This was our largest turnout for any Reclaim the Night in the Borders, and we had a fantastic response.”
“We’ve had between 50 to 90 people in the past but had over 110 on Monday which was great.”
Reclaim the Night marches first came to the UK in 1977, when a protest march was held in Leeds under the cloud of the Yorkshire Ripper killings.