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U of L community takes back the night
Nearly 300 people from the University of Louisville and surrounding areas came out September 29 to protest against violence toward women. The annual “Take Back the Night” rally and march was the largest ever held at U of L, said Mary Karen Powers, director of the Women’s Center.
Activities such as music, speeches, a candlelight vigil and a discussion group for men highlighted the evening. However, Powers said that two of the night’s activities helped participants understand that violence against women does affect U of L students.
One of those activities was a dedication service in memorial of former U of L student, Elaine Fonseca Rodriguez. Rodriguez was murdered in her home as a result of intimate partner violence one week before her graduation from Speed Scientific School in December of 2002. A plaque and tree were dedicated to her memory during the service.
“For me, that really brought home the reality that intimate partner violence happens to U of L students, not just other people in the community,” Powers said. “There were a number of faculty members that taught her and students who knew her that attended.”
Powers said the other humbling activity that grabbed her attention was the speak-out, during which women who have been victims of violence voiced their strong opposition of such behavior.
“This helps women know they are not alone,” Powers said. “The person who was speaking had been a victim of violence. They have found a way to begin healing in their lives, and that says to a victim, who’s too afraid to speak out, ‘there’s hope for you too.'”
“There were a number of men that who participated in the rally,” Powers said. “I think what that says is that most men don’t approve of violence against women. It’s really important to say that. If we’re going to stop violence against women, then we have got to encourage the men to stand up to one another and to challenge the violence that is in the culture that we live in.”
Powers said the march was a huge success, and that all the centers for women at U of L and in the community are striving to stop violence against women. Powers stressed that women shouldn’t be afraid to speak out against violence, because speaking out helps other women who may have been too afraid to make a stand by themselves.
“We need to end violence against women,” Powers said. “Everyone wants to see a day when we don’t need the Take Back the Night rally.”