Friends, I was so disappointed that I could not be with you on Friday night to take a stand against street harassment, rape culture, and violence against women. Thank you so much for marching to demand that our streets are safe for all.
It is a shocking truth that almost 40 percent of girls in the UK face catcalling or wolf whistling every month. That 20 percent will have experienced sexual assault before they turn sixteen. And that almost half of women feel unsafe walking alone at night.
We demand freedom from sexual violence and harassment. Violence against women and girls must end, here on our streets, across our communities, locally and globally.
We have a President in the White House who famously boasts about assaulting women and a Prime Minister who chose to play Brexit games rather than legislate to protect women from domestic abuse. So our voices need to ring out louder and clearer than ever.
We defy all those who seek to undermine or erode our rights. We defy those who seek to objectify our bodies. And we defy the idea that any part of our city, at any time of day or night, might be a no-go area for women.
So in reclaiming the night, we are also claiming our basic human rights.
All women have the right to feel safe - in their home, on the street or at work. That’s why Greens have been calling for misogyny to be made a hate crime. And thanks to tireless cross party campaigning inside and outside of Parliament, there is now a real opportunity for change.
Brighton and Hove has a long and proud history of feminist solidarity and I would like to pay particular tribute to Rise, who are marking 25 years of supporting survivors of domestic abuse. They are doing this vital work in the context of brutal budget cuts by central government. As a community we demand proper funding for women’s services as a fundamental part of our struggle for equality and justice.
I may not have been there in person because of a prior commitment, but in spirit I was with you as sisterly solidarity lit up the darkness and reclaimed the night.