University and Metropolitan Police Department cruisers cleared the streets Thursday as Womyn’s Issues Now members led about 60 women through GW’s campus at the Take Back the Night march.
“Violence Against Women Hurts Everyone,” declared signs carried by the marchers. The eleventh-annual march culminated a week of activities staged by WIN for Violence Against Women Awareness Week.
The event was a designated night for women to “walk through the streets without fear,” said WIN member Johanna Osburn.
Poetry and songs decrying violence against women emanated from a pre-march rally at the Marvin Center H Street Terrace.
Ralliers donned ribbons to show their support for victims of violence against women.
The march, which included chants for safe streets and an end to rape, was intended exclusively for women. But men were encouraged to attend the pre-march rally and participate in a forum on ways that men can help end violence, said Eric Suess, a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, who helped lead the men’s discussion.
Suess said he did not see why friction should exist between fraternity members and the WIN marchers.
“There is no conflict between fraternities and women’s issues,” Suess said. “Everyone should have a common goal of equality.”
The purpose of the evening was to raise awareness of sexual abuse, especially on GW’s campus. During the rally, Osburn said that one in three women in the United States. will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.
She said one in five college women will be assaulted during her four years at school, and that in the United States, a woman is raped an average of every five minutes.
The marchers formed a circle for a moment of silence for a woman who lived in Thurston Hall last year. They said she had accused two fraternity members of sexual assault. The men were not found guilty in a University hearing.