What do we want? Safe spaces! When do we want them? Now!
Written by Karishma Balasubramanian and Antonina Dolecka
On the 30th of October at 5:30 pm, a large group of people holding placards, banners, megaphones and safety jackets gathered in Bristo Square. They were gathered to participate in a protest march against the recent rise in spikings and gender-based violence that have taken over Edinburgh's nightlife. Organised by the Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society, the march started in Bristo Square, passing through Cowgate and concluded at Parliament in Holyrood.
The Feminist Society single-handedly reached out to Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Police to organise and escort the protest. By the courtesy of the Police, roads were blocked off for the protesters with a police car and two policemen guiding the front and rear end of the group. The Feminist Society’s committee were spread out through the protesting crowd; most at the front shouting slogans. Select committee members had Hi Vis jackets on to be easily identified for any queries of immediate assistance.
The slogans were powerful and practiced briefly beforehand. The first being a question and rebuttal format: “What do we want? Safe spaces! When do we want them? Now!” The second one was a similar concept: “Whose night? Our night!”. The consistent chant was “Stop spiking now!” To the point and energetic.
The movement gained momentum as the crowd approached Cowgate, a centre of attention for reporting cases of spiking and being the hub of Edinburgh's most notorious night-outs. On-lookers included people in cars, people on bridges above Cowgate, and street passers-by who joined the march enthusiastically with the slogans and rounds of applause. The protesters were also photographed, videoed, and cheered on throughout the walk.
The march concluded at Parliament in Holyrood with speeches from three women engaged heavily in the activism front on campus. The first speech was from Rachel Thomsen from Urbanangel, followed by Sharessa Naidoo from Girl Up Edinburgh and last, but by no means least, a moving speech from Amy Life, President of the Feminist Society. All speeches raised targeted points at governments, policy makers with an angle on inclusivity when it comes to safety and precautionary measures that clubs will look to mandate from here on.
The protest wrapped up at 6:45 pm, with the crowds dispersing after an emotional evening with amplified sentiments and powerful after thoughts.
Images from the protest by Antonina Dolecka.