The numbers are startling and sickening.
Be it sexual violence against women from marginalized communities, or the incarceration rates of women who are mothers with vulnerable children on the outside — not to mention the risk women face on college campuses — the rising statistics of sexual and domestic assaults can’t be ignored.
So the Take Back the Night Rally, started in San Francisco in 1978 and now a national event, is taking its annual firm stand to shine a light on this cancer, and the University of Oregon campus community and the Women’s Center is playing its role with a survivor-centered event on campus April 27.
“Our theme for this year’s event is rising up against the endless attacks on bodily autonomy taking place socio-politically and socio-culturally,” the Women’s Center notes in a pre-rally statement.
A 6 pm rally at the Erb Memorial Union Amphitheater begins the event. The newly routed 7 pm march through the streets of Eugene, organizers say, is meant to “symbolize reclaiming safety on public streets at night.”
The Speak-Out portion that closes Take Back the Night on the Knight Library South Lawn is student led. Survivors of sexual or domestic violence can share their stories, and mental health providers not affiliated with the University of Oregon will be on hand to lend confidential assistance as needed. Organizers ask that no UO professional staff or media be present during this portion of the event to provide a sacred space for students to have dialogue circles of peer to peer support.
The problem of sexual and domestic violence is urgent, and the impact of the violence needs to be better understood.
It is widely estimated, for instance, that roughly 60 percent of women incarcerated in the U.S. are mothers, with many being held because they can’t afford bail for non-violent crimes. Yet a study by the nonprofit Girls Embracing Mothers indicates that these numbers are incomplete. The nonprofit reached out to all 50 states and found that only 11 states even compile statistics on incarcerated mothers, and those numbers are not reliably updated.
The issue has a disproportionate impact on Black families, The Sentencing Project says, because Black people are incarcerated at higher rates than other races.
Also, a U.S. Justice Department report released in 2022 notes that in the years 2017-20, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found that persons who identified as lesbian or gay experienced 43.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons (rape, robbery and various assaults), more than twice the rate as persons who identified as straight.
And on college campuses, women still face an elevated risk of sexual assault. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), one in four women will be sexually assaulted while in college.
So take a stand — and take back the night.