Women taking part in Sheffield’s ‘Reclaim the Night’ march which advocates against violence towards women, were bombarded with verbal and physical abuse on West Street last week.
The women were physically assaulted, barricaded from walking past and even had bottles thrown at them.
This was accompanied by ongoing verbal abuse, shouting “get your tits out” and calling the women “lesbians”.
Lee, 26, who took part in the march, said: “One man shoved one of us out of the way, while his mates stood cheering him on.”
She also described a female passer-by who was enraged when she saw their sign saying ‘consent is sexy’.
“It’s quite sad that this is the view she has on consent, she must’ve lived so much of her life without being able to talk to anyone about what she’s been through.”
The march started at Sheffield Cathedral and went through West Street, all the way to Coffee Revs at the University of Sheffield Student Union.
The campaign started in the 1970s after the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ Peter Sutcliffe terrorised women across the streets of the North, and Police responded by telling women to stay inside.
Lee said: “We’re furious and upset that we still need to do this, years after Reclaim the Night was created.
“Normally we think we have safety in groups, but this proved to us it makes no difference.”
She also referenced the ‘Rape Culture Pyramid’, where seemingly small acts like catcalling or verbal abuse can pave the way for wider acceptance of more serious forms of gender-based violence.
It wasn’t all bad though as there were some supporters who cheered the protestors on and cars that beeped in encouragement.
The meeting at Coffee Revs was also a space for the women to discuss the traumatic experience and find solidarity in one another.
There are many places for women in Sheffield to find support if they have experienced gender-based violence, including the Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (SRASAC) which provides support with recovery, and Strut Safe, a phone line open on weekend nights, where women can stay on the phone all the way home.