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Blog: Reclaim the Night in Aberdeen

17 Nov 2023 Article Image

Reclaim the Night in Aberdeen


A Historical Perspective


Aberdeen has a history of activism and empowerment, dating back to a time when women had to fight for their safety on the streets. Between 1974 and 1978, reports of rape in Aberdeen escalated from four to twelve, prompting a growing concern for women's safety in the city. In response to a series of assaults on female students, self-defence classes were offered at the University of Aberdeen in 1979.

During this time, Jennifer Simon, the woman's editor at the Evening Express, penned a powerful editorial that shed light on the fear women faced in the city. She wrote, "Fear of being the victim of a sexual assault is one that women have to live with." Women in Aberdeen, and all over the country, were too scared to go out alone, even to attend evening classes. Stories of verbal abuse and the constant fear of being attacked were common experiences shared by women.

In 1977, Al Garthwaite organised the UK's first "Reclaim the Night" march in Leeds as part of the Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group. The movement raised concerns about violence against women and the infamous Yorkshire Ripper case, inspiring similar marches in other cities. In Scotland, "Reclaim the Night" marches were held in Glasgow and Edinburgh before the Aberdeen organizing committee urged women to take a stand in the Granite City in 1979.

Fast forward to 2023, and the message of "Reclaim the Night" is as relevant as ever. In a climate reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s, women have been told to stay at home for their safety. Outraged and determined, people across the country have expressed their grief and anger.


Reclaim the Night March in Aberdeen


In response to the sexual assault and brutal murder of Jill Barclay’s that sparked response of outrage, solidarity and compassion, the community of Aberdeen marched the streets in 2022. The devastating loss of the mum of two sent shockwaves throughout the local community and the country.

The "Reclaim the Night" march in Aberdeen will continue to be a powerful expression of solidarity and the demand for greater safety for women. This year's march will take place on Saturday, November 25th, starting at 8 pm. Participants will gather at St Nicholas Centre and then march to Union Terrace Gardens.


Reclaim the Night 1995

Image: Reclaim the Night, 1995.



The Aberdeen Women's Alliance (AWA) is organizing the event to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The march will be a poignant expression of women's determination not to walk in fear on the streets. Torches will be lit at St Nicholas Square drummers energizing the crowd.

As Grampian Women’s Aid is joining the "Reclaim the Night" march and participating in related events, we honour the historical struggle and stand united for an Aberdeenshire where everyone can walk the streets without fear. Join us on November 25th as we imagine a Scotland without gender-based violence and work towards a safer, more equitable future.


We invite all women, children, and men to join us on this day. Together, let’s stand against violence and fear.


Event: Reclaim the Night

When: Saturday, 28 November 2023

Where: St Nicholas Square start