Eliza Pope/Assistant Photo Editor

Ana Qarri

In the wake of two recent cases of sexual assault near McMaster in August, students may not feel comfortable walking home at night. But with the help of community groups in Hamilton and at Mac, steps are being taken for that to change.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, SACHA (Sexual Assault Centre – Hamilton & Area) is holding its annual Take Back The Night Rally at City Hall.

Take Back the Night is a feminist initiative that allows female-identified people to reclaim their right to safety, and stand up to gender-based violence. Through the work of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, TBTN became a recognized, annual nation-wide march in 1981.

Take Back the Night is one of the many efforts taken by feminist organizations in Hamilton to initiate discussion on rape culture and sexism on campus. In collaboration with the McMaster Anti-Violence Network, SACHA brought TBTN to McMaster on Sept. 11 to provide educational opportunities for students.

The day included an information fair in the MUSC atrium where MSU services and clubs, such as SHEC, SWHAT, QSCC, FAM, Peer Support Line, and others, displayed the variety of resources and support they offer McMaster students.

The fair was followed by an “Interrupting Rape Culture” workshop, where guest speakers from SACHA’s “It’s Time” Campaign, Hollaback! Hamilton, and the White Ribbon Campaign shared their insights and experiences with gender-based assault in the community. The workshop focused on acknowledging intersectionality when discussing the societal impacts of rape culture, strategies to safely handle street harassment, and the role of male allies in the movement.

With the two recent cases of sexual assault on Emerson St., discussions about gender-based violence become more relevant and significant to Mac students.

“Take Back the Night is something important to bring to our campus,” said Elise Milani, Chair of the Women & Trans* Centre Committee.

“It gets people talking about rape culture – something that would [otherwise] be ignored.”

Through initiatives like the development of the Women and Trans* Centre and the “It’s Time to End Violence Against Women” Campaign, McMaster is showing its female-identified students that it is standing in solidarity with them in the fight against sexual assault on campus and in the community.

The university administration has joined in efforts against sexual assault as well. After the two incidents near Mac, the incidents were made public on the McMaster Daily News, deviating from what had been done in the past.

Campus Security Services page now also includes resources for people who have been sexually assaulted on campus, as well as information on consent.

The Hamilton rally of Take Back the Night, run by SACHA, will take place at 6pm in front of City Hall on Sept. 12. The rally is exclusive to female-identified people. Male allies can attend the solidarity event at MacNab St.

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