APRIL 22, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu

CSUB Plans to "Take Back the Night"

California State University, Bakersfield will join a movement that is literally sweeping the world when it hosts on Thursday (April 24) what is believed to be the first Take Back the Night rally and march in Kern County.

The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. in front of the CSUB Student Union, said Doris Hall, a criminal justice professor at CSUB. "There will be several guest speakers including Janet Millar from the CSUB Counseling Center, and Johanna Cisneros from the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault," Hall said. At 6:45 p.m., those gathered will march to The Marketplace shopping center where the Alliance Against Family Violence will have a candlelight ceremony for sexual-assault victims. The evening will include individuals sharing how sexual violence affects their lives and the community as a whole.

Take Back the Night rallies are designed to bring awareness and empowerment to individuals and to inspire action that will bring an end to sexual violence, Hall said. "The rallies are often healing, empowering, and enlightening. People share their stories personally, or sometimes submit their stories anonymously and they are read at the rally. The idea is to help people understand that violence against women, children, and yes, even men, is insidious. By raising the community's awareness, we hope to end sexual violence." She said the community is invited to the rally and march.

The Take Back the Night movement began in Europe and has continued to spread throughout the world as a means of empowerment for women, men and children, Hall said. "This will be the first time our university has hosted a Take Back the Night march and rally."

Take Back the Night is a collaboration of community and campus organizations that are ready to take a stand against violence and make Kern County safe for everyone, she said.

The first Take Back the Night event was held in Germany in 1973 as a response to a series of sexual assaults, rapes and murders. Five years later the first U.S. Take Back The Night march was held in San Francisco; more than 5,000 women from 30 states participated.

Marchers have called attention to the issue of violence against women. "Although the march emphasizes that violence against women occurs at all times, we are particularly concerned about violence at night," Hall said.

According to the Justice Department one in five American women will be victims of rape or sexual assault. Other studies have found that college women are especially at risk for sexual assault and stalking, which is one of the reasons that colleges and universities throughout the nation host Take Back the Night rallies and marches.

Take Back The Night marches are held internationally in all parts of the world, and the message is the same: women are not safe from male violence. "Incidents of rape and sexual assault have not decreased," Hall said. "The Take Back The Night march is a way for women to come together in a collective voice and demand our rights for freedom of movement during the night without fear and without male escorts."

For more information, please call Hall at (661) 664-3121.