Take back the night a males perspective
Last night a successful upbeat take back the night rally and march followed by discussion groups of both genders was held in Auckland city. The event began in Aotea square with food distributed to participants and those in the surrounding area by food no bombs, followed by speakers and a fundraising raffle for womens refuge. The speakers included a speaker from Auckland Anarcha Feminist Syndicate (the group organizing the event), a speaker from rape crisis who discussed the dismal statistics of conviction of rapists and the lack of support in our communities of womyn who have been victims of sexual abuse and violence. A group of home birth midwifes from Waiheke island who had participated in take back the night marches 30 years ago, spoke about the medical and patriarchal demonising of womyn who are taking control of their own bodies and pregnancies.
After the speeches, waiata and raffle the event moved onto Queen st with chants such as "2 4 6 8 no more date rape" and "whatever we wear, where ever we go, yes means yes, no means no". The march was lead by the women with men following carrying a men against gender violence banner. Soon after moving onto the road a unmarked police car started nudging the rear of the march and 2 more marked cars attempted to drive into the march to force us onto the footpath. Eventually 5 police cars and a paddy wagon blocked the march forced us onto a sidestreet with police pushing people back. The march then crossed the road and kept going this time on the foot path. Chants of "2 4 6 8 no more police rape” were used and those participating in the march refused to be intimidated by the high police presence. As the march went into Greys ave police cars parked in front and behind the march boxing participants in and then threatening to arrest them for blocking a fire station entrance. The march then continued down Greys ave on the foot path in single file in silence surrounded by aggressive police officers and at least 7 marked and unmarked police cars.
Once we reached Myers park the march then broke into discussion groups of those who identified as males and females with the mens group discussing sexism in our society and our responsibility as males to confront sexism in our daily lives. The male group was a powerful experience for all involved and regular meetings are going to be held to carry on the points brought up in the group and to take action to support and aid those combating sexism and patriarchy. The womens group was a social workshop with the purpose of empowering womyn to share their thoughts and feelings on contentious subjects in a safe womyn only environment ended with a loud drumming circle and lanterns.
During the march i was seperated from the group and searched under the pretext of the liquor ban present in the CBD I was forced to give my details under threat of arrest and the officer tried to confiscate my phone. When i asked questions about my rights I was told i would be arrested for obstruction a friend was also threated with arrest for watching my questioning. The officer threated that if he saw me taking photos again i would be arrested for harrasment and when i said i was taking photos because I thought the march was interesting he got angry and yelled that he had seen me before taking photos.
All in all a powerful night and a great experience for all involved.
Also posted on www.indymedia.org.nz