Jade Hope John is organising the walk in the name of Reclaim The Night, the movement that came to the UK over 40 years ago to fight against the fear of violence towards women at night and root out those responsible.
In 1977 women in Leeds took to the streets to protest against the apparent need for women to stay at home after dark due to the murder of 13 women by Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
The demand was for action to enable women to be able to walk the streets at night, without the fear of rape or attack. The movement came to the fore again last year after the murder of Sarah Everard while out walking at night.
Jade explained: “Recently in Sleaford there has been a rise in violence, often against women. This walk is hoping to raise awareness and to take a stand against gender based violence and sexual harassment in our community.”
She said such a threat is not acceptable and referred to the report of a sexual assault on a woman on a path in Mareham Pastures at around 2am on Monday morning.
Jade said: “I live very close by and feel very afraid to walk alone now. I used to run around there with my headphones in but not now and that is not OK - it should not be the case.
“For me, I feel like I have lost a personal freedom, as I no longer feel safe to walk alone in my own town at night, and that is simply not okay.”
Recently she heard a young girl had been approached in a park by three teenagers who made lewd comments towards her which shook her.
She added: “My friend was walking through town the other day and she was being cat-called and they fellowed her in and out of shops.”
She also noted a general level of violence, with the recent stabbing at Castle Causeway and a teenager assaulted on Lincoln Road in recent weeks, as well as the vandalism to outdoor furniture outside Tiamo Italian restaurant on Sunday night.
“What is happening in this town?” she said. “I have always loved living in Sleaford but recently that enjoyment has gone.”
The walk will start at 10pm on Saturday July 24 meeting at Mareham Pastures carpark. Those gathered will then walk along the long, dark alley way from the nature reserve into town, finishing at the Market Place. You are advised to bring a torch and make sure your phone is fully charged.
Jade is hoping to get attack alarms and whistles from a company to hand out to women who may have to walk home from night shifts. The Fitness Zone gym on the enterprise park is donating 10 rape/personal alarms to the event.
“I’ve been talking to some local self defence teachers and they may give the girls some baic knowledge when we get to town.”
So far she has been overwhelmed by the numerous positive responses since launching the event today (Tuesday) and has been speaking to the local police who she says are supportive of the movement.
Jade said she had seen some victim ‘blaming and shaming on social media and to those querying the judgement of someone walking alone at night in a secluded area, she said they are asking the wrong question: “Why should anyone be attacked, regardless of when or where? They could be just finishing a nightshift or walking home late from babysitting. The reason doesn’t matter.”
Jade said: “One woman said she would never walk alone. Others have said they won’t walk alone since recent events and there are others that don’t go out full stop,” but she praised the police’s efforts. “We have a great local police force and I often see a police presence in the town.
“Everyone is welcome - women and men, to just support one another, to be safe and shine a light on what is going on. If 20 people show up and support the event that will be a success to me. I want people to know they are not alone,” she said. “This violence is not acceptable in our town.”