Women in Aberdeen will march through the city centre later this month, demanding safer streets in the wake of Jill Barclay’s murder.
The Reclaim the Night event has been organised by campaign group Aberdeen Women’s Alliance (AWA), and will take place on November 25 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
It comes two months after the death of the 47-year-old mum who was walking home through Dyce after a night out with a friend when she was attacked on September 17.
A vigil held a few days later at the roundabout near where her body was found attracted between 300 and 400 people.
A man has since appeared in court charged with her murder and has been remanded in custody.
The shocking incident led to questions about how safe the city is at night.
“What happened has really affected a lot of women, I know that personally,” said Sandra Macdonald, the leader of Aberdeen City Council’s Labour group and a founding member of the AWA.
“Speaking to women, it was felt how on earth that could happen.
“I know it wasn’t in the city centre, and in some ways that was even more shocking.”
After reading Rebecca Buchan’s P&J column about Jill Barclay’s death and having a discussion with her daughter, she decided a march should be organised.
Concerns about quieter streets since Covid
Sandra added: “Speaking to people in the lead-up to doing the march, [Jill’s death] resonates with women young and old, anywhere in the city.
“They believe that women should be able to go on a night out and get home safely.”
Women’s concerns have only grown since the Covid pandemic, she said, as fewer people on the streets make anti-social behaviour more likely.
“There’s a lot of factors at play among that, including recent events of male violence against women, but also access to taxis and everything from good lighting to footfall.
“They all make a difference to how women feel on our streets when out and about.”
The march will begin at Marks and Spencer on St Nicholas Street at 5.30pm, then head along the Union Street pavement towards Union Terrace.
It will proceed the full length of that street, finishing at the Common Sense Cafe pavilion and plaza.
While the initiative is led by women, men and children will be welcomed too as they show their solidarity with the cause.
Sandra said: “We want our voices to be heard, saying we should be able to walk in safety on our streets here in Aberdeen because we should have that freedom.”
As well as drawing attention to the issue of safer streets, the AWA hopes the event will help them signpost women who are facing violence or abuse to places where they can find support.
Information on local and national charities, as well as specialist services for LGBT+ people and those who don’t speak English, is available on the AWA Facebook page and will be distributed at the march.
A separate fundraising event for the family of Jill Barclay has been organised for the same day as the march.
The music night will feature five local artists, who will perform from 7pm at the New Greentrees pub in Dyce.
A GoFundMe page set up following her death has raised almost £30,000 in less than two months.