Reclaim the Night is happening again in the Blue Mountains, but this year it is virtual.
Reclaim the Night is an important annual international women's protest held on the last Friday in October and was first held in Australia in 1978. It developed out of the need for women to challenge all forms of violence perpetrated against them and the culture that permits this violence.
The early Reclaim the Night marches fought for a woman's right to walk without fear at night. Women made it clear that everyone has the right to feel safe and to be safe - no matter where they are, no matter what time of day it is, no matter what they're doing or what they're wearing.
Over the years, although the focus remains on sexual violence, Reclaim the Night has evolved to include other forms of violence against women.
Some hundred women, children and men joined in the Reclaim the Night march in Katoomba last year. They marched to demand an end to violence in the home, on the streets, at school and at work. They marched to demand a real response to violence against women in all areas of their lives. Many attended the performances and speeches afterwards.
This year the Blue Mountains Reclaim the Night will be online.The Blue Mountains Coalition Against Violence and Abuse (CAVA), supported and sponsored by the Zonta Club of the Blue Mountains is presenting an In Conversation between Trish Doyle MP and local illustrator, feminist and activist Ailie Banks.
Trish Doyle is the local State Member of Parliament and is the opposition spokeswoman on Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.
She is part of a team that has developed the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2020, which will criminalise coercive control. The bill defines the conduct that constitutes coercive control listing a number of behaviours that need to be proven as part of a pattern. The bill has been drafted to include all intimate relationships, including parents, partners and former partners, as well as children.
Ms Doyle said: "I acknowledge the role of victims and survivors, the advocates, the services and the supporters in calling for an end to violence. It is not good enough to hold women responsible for men's violence. We've put up with that for far too long.
"I demand that men be held to account for their violence. I call on other men to join us and call out violence when they see it. The only way we can reduce the statistics of violence against women is to work together - men and women, community, non-government organisations, police and health care workers, the researchers and academics and all levels of government.
"We must work together, learn what works and makes a difference and focus our efforts there".
Ailie Banks grew up in the Mountains and currently resides in Leura, working as a freelance illustrator. Her illustrative work has gained a global audience via Instagram and has been featured by Teen Vogue, Gurlstalk and Marie Clare.
She often explores ideas of feminism, mental illness, resilience and activism in her conceptual practice. She has recently published her first illustrated book, The Book of Bitch, through Allen & Unwin.
People are invited to take part in the live interactive event from 11am until noon on Friday, October 30. See facebook.com/events/303546307418510/ or join for the replay at 5pm.