Meagan Gaalaas, left, speaks into a megaphone while leading the second annual Take Back the Night rally in downtown Red Deer Friday evening. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Take Back the Night rally marches through downtown Red Deer

Dozens marched through the city’s downtown chanting, “Red Deer unite, take back the night.”

The goal of Friday’s Take Back the Night rally was to bring attention to the lack of legal justice for many survivors of sexual assault.

“It’s about changing the culture and changing the perspective of how society views us as survivors,” said Meagan Gaalaas, one of the second annual event’s organizers.

“We often get that victim mentality, when really we want to portray that we’re strong, we do have rights and we’re looking for justice. We deserve respect and dignity, especially within the justice system.”

Meagan Gaalaas, a survivor of sexual violence, said many perpetrators never face jail time.

“It’s leaving the survivors feeling worthless,” she said.

“It’s really damaging to us as survivors when we see perpetrators getting away or not even going to trial. Not getting believed and victim-blaming are also real issues. We’ve got to do something.”

Gaalaas said she hopes the rally can give people a voice to people, whether they are a survivor of, or lost their lives to, sexual violence.

“We have to come out as a collective, raise our voice and we need to see some structural change, especially within the policies in the criminal justice system,” she said.

“We need to take our voice back and let people know this happens a lot more than they may think. We just want to project our voice and let people know they aren’t alone.”

Patricia Arango, Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre executive director, said this rally is important because most crime happens at night.

“This is the best way to say this street is ours, … the parks, the schools. We can be wherever we want without fear that something is going to happen to us,” said Arango.

Another big concern is that women may not be safe in their own home, Arango said.

“Many women are killed by their own intimate partner in their own home. It’s very worrying. Before we taught our kids about stranger danger, but now it happens at home,” she said.

Arango said she was glad to see such a great turnout to the event.

“I would like to see more men at this because it’s for everybody. But I’m very happy to see the community support,” she said.

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Dozens joined the second annual Take Back the Night rally in downtown Red Deer Friday evening. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

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