Women reclaim streets at night in safety initiative

Women supporting the Women Walk at Midnight initiative in Woodstock.

Making Cape Town’s streets safe for women to walk at night is one of the goals of Women Walk at Midnight.

Amrita Pande, of Observatory, started the initiative six months ago and it copies a concept started by her friend, feminist and artist Mallika Taneja, in India.

“I felt a strong desire to have such a collective in my current home town,” said Ms Pande.

She started the first evening walk in Observatory last August and more walks followed in the City Bowl, Sea Point, and Muizenberg. The most recent one was held in Woodstock on Thursday January 26.

On average, about 30 women attend the walks, which run from 9pm to late, according to Ms Pande.

“All women want to walk in public spaces, day or night, without fear, but rarely are we able to without a sense of fear, without holding on to whatever we feel will protect us from the predator lurking around and without our hearts beating in our mouths,” she said.

“Yes, it is dangerous to walk and that is why we walk together. There are no formal mechanisms of safety and no police protection. We are each other’s safety and there is safety in numbers.”

Simone Heradien, of Woodstock, was at the latest walk and said: “It was good not having to look over our shoulders, to check if there is danger coming on. There is definitely safety in numbers.”

Ms Heradien said she hoped the concept would catch on and expand to other areas.

“If thousands of women can walk at night, it will make it a safer community and send out a statement to the criminals that we are here to reclaim the street and that they cannot rule it,” she said.

Woodstock police station commander Colonel Delvyn Matroos said he was unfamiliar with the concept but praised the group’s “hard work and dedication towards preventing crime in our community”.

A walk is planned in Salt River at the beginning of next month. Women wanting to take part can email Ms Pande at Amrita.pande@uct.ac.za or follow womxnwalkatmidnight on Instragram.

A Women Walk at Midnight walk in Muizenberg last December.