Reclaim the Night march in Portsmouth acts as rallying cry for victim support

Police at the Mutiny Festival

Armed police guard music fans at Mutiny Festival

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NEARLY 100 men and women marched through Portsmouth to reclaim the night.

Waving placards and chanting, the members of the fifth annual Reclaim the Night walk in the city attracted both male and female supporters.

The 5th annual Reclaim the Night march leaving Gunwharf Quays on Friday evening being led by drumming group Batala.''Picture: Sarah Standing (133204-9256)

The 5th annual Reclaim the Night march leaving Gunwharf Quays on Friday evening being led by drumming group Batala.''Picture: Sarah Standing (133204-9256)

Revellers starting early and late shoppers in Gunwharf Quays stopped to look as the loud procession went by, led by the Batala band.

It was organised by Aurora New Dawn and White Ribbon, and aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse against women.

Shonagh Dillon is the chief executive officer of Aurora, the Portsmouth-based service and campaigning centre for women suffering from domestic abuse.

She said the march from Spinnaker Tower to Guildhall Square was organised to coincide with the United Nations’ End Violence Against Women Day on Monday, and marks the start of several days of action.

She said: ‘We want to raise awareness about violence against women and reclaim our streets, because women still feel unsafe to walk at night.

‘This is the start of our 16 days of action. What’s happened for Reclaim the Night recently is that we’ve had a massive resurgence.

‘It’s about domestic abuse and violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage.

‘It’s about getting people in your community to reclaim their streets ... to make sure people feel and know their community is behind them.’

Mark Dawson, 31, of Pitcroft Road, in North End, was with his fiancée Zoe Jackson, 31, the operations manager of Aurora New Dawn.

He said: ‘It’s important to show solidarity with the problems that women face.

‘As men we have a responsibility to not stand by, to not be silent about the struggles women face. We’re in a unique position where we can, or should, be influencing our peers, leading by example.

‘It’s letting people know it’s not alright to stay silent or condone or commit acts of violence against women, be it physical or sexual.’

Zoe said it was good to see survivors of abuse and members of the community join the march.

She said: ‘It’s wonderful for us, we do this stuff on a daily basis. It’s really nice for everyone to come down.’

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