San Francisco Women Against Rape, founded in 1973, has a long history of powerful individuals who have used courage and strength to break the silence around rape and sexual assault. Founded in a basement in San Francisco where four women worked to answer calls on the crisis line from folks who were experiencing sexual violence, this movement was built on a profound commitment to the vision of a world without rape. SFWAR has stood on the backs of people who over the last 35 years have donated their time, money, expertise, and hearts to the movement to end rape. Walk Against Rape was founded in this spirit: to provide a chance for people to continue to support this movement and show their commitment to a world without sexual violence.
"The idea of Walk Against Rape came from the long tradition of "Take Back the Night" that San Francisco and the world has held. The term "Take Back the Night" came from the title of a 1977 memorial read by Anne Pride at an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh. The first "Reclaim the Night" march was held in Belgium in 1976 by the women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. They marched together holding candles to protest the ways in which violence permeates the lives of women worldwide. Other marches were held in Rome in 1976 as a reaction to recently released rape statistics, in West Germany in 1977 demanding "the right to move freely in their communities at day and night without harassment and sexual assault." The first known "Take Back the Night" march in the United States was organized in San Francisco, California on November 4, 1978.
While the march began as a way to protest the violence that women experienced while walking in public at night, the purpose of these marches was to speak out against this violence and raise community awareness as a preventive measure against future violence. The movement has since grown to encompass all forms of violence against all persons, though violence against women-identified folks is still the movement's main focus. The word night was originally meant to be taken literally to express the fear that many women feel during the night but has since changed to symbolize a fear of violence in general. This helps the movement incorporate other concerns such as domestic violence and sexual abuse within the home. The march has grown from a widely publicized event taking place in major cities to an event happening internationally from large metropolitan areas to small college campuses, all advocating for the right of everyone to feel safe from violence."
~ Take Back the Night
Walk Against Rape is San Francisco's way of carrying on the tradition of Take Back the Night and contributing to the Sexual Assault Awareness Month of April. Clearly one goal of Walk Against Rape is to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence and to mobilize community members to end sexual assault. But, in addition, the Walk provides a space for survivors of sexual violence to heal through sharing their experiences and celebrating their resilience, educates communities about the resources available in the aftermath of an assault, raises money for SFWAR to continue providing vital crisis and prevention education services, and makes visible what has historically been silenced and invisible. All of the money raised from the Walk goes directly towards services for survivors of rape and sexual assault and programs designed to educate and work toward an end to sexual violence. With your help and participation this year we can achieve these goals! Together we can make Walk Against Rape an event that creates real change in San Francisco and the world.
2007 Walk Against RapeWatch SFWAR video
of 2007 Walk
YO! Youth Outlook
TV video of 2007 Walk
Imagining a World Without Rape:
Second Annual Walk Against Rape
Over 400 people marched through San Francisco, for the Second Annual Walk Against Rape. As survivors celebrated the power of community to end rape, their loved ones, friends, and committed residents of San Francisco were present bearing witness. SFWAR intern and Walk participant Camille Bates said, "Just when the heat had gotten to me and my energy was waning we reached the Duboce intersection with the freeway over head. We stopped here to take a break; our break almost broke the bridge as we raised our voices in a unified yell, shout, cheer, scream. It was as if the strength of survivors and those supporting us were in harmonious agreement, reinforcing that we can keep surviving. This moment embodied the spirit of the entire walk." The Walk culminated in a celebration in Dolores Park where youth dance troupe performed, spoken word artists entertained, guitars blared healing music, and speeches compelled us to come together and stop sexual violence.
This year SFWAR partnered with the Activism and Social Change Program of New College in promoting and coordinating the WALK. With "Imagine a World Without Rape" signs taped to their clothing, students engaged in street outreach at Montgomery, Powell and Embarcadero BART stations. These students helped break the silence surrounding sexual assault by distributing flyers announcing the WALK and information about sexual violence, including resources for survivors. During the WALK, they led chants, held signs that read IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT RAPE, and created an interactive art -based healing space at the rally.
Walk Against Rape embodies the type of community action SFWAR views as essential in ending sexual violence. Over the last thirty-seven years the anti-rape movement has truly changed how the world views sexual violence; by continuing to create spaces like Walk, one day we will end the epidemic of sexual violence. I'm proud and grateful to be a part of this community and to witness the individual and collective healing this event promotes.
If you want to be involved in our Walk Against Rape 2013, please contact Alma Munoz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-861-2024 ext. 301.