Shatter the silence: Take Back the Night
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Traffic rolls to a stop as yelling can be heard from down the street. A fire truck flashes lights and honks its horn followed by the wail of a siren from the police car behind it. A voice from the vehicle intercom shouts something and the men and women, following shoulder-to-shoulder echo the words clearly as they continue to march behind the motorcade.
"Yes means yes! No means no! However we dress! Wherever we go!"
Voices shatter the silence of the night and the sharp piercing sound of cowbells and clappers echoes through the streets. Men and women of Kadena Air Base united together during Take Back the Night to march against sexual assault on this Friday night.
Each step they took meant something, each chant they yelled was for someone and each sign they held turned heads.
"Take back the night is rally for anti-violence primarily focused on sexual violence," said Tech. Sgt. Sophia Williams, 18th Maintenance Group fighter scheduling NCO in charge and volunteer victims advocate. "This is a ritual started decades ago by women to discuss women's safety when walking down public streets."
Led by an 18th Security Forces Squadron patrol car covered in teal ribbons, the participants marched from the Special Victim's Council office parking lot toward Chapel 2 with noise makers and cowbells, while chanting, symbolizing survivors reclaiming the night, the time when sexual assaults are most likely to occur.
While they marched down the street heads turned and traffic came to a standstill as people marched down the streets. United they chanted, "We are women. We are men. Together we fight. Together we take back the night."
"We get a few stares as cars pass by," said Master Sgt. Katrina Rubio, 18th Wing sexual assault response coordinator. "Most of the cars passing honked in support."
As the march concluded at Chapel 2, the marchers were greeted and given flashlights by victim advocates and volunteers. Each participants was asked to think about someone they knew that had experienced sexual assault.
The courtyard was silent, each person alone with their thoughts.
"Once we got to the chapel the mood was very somber," Rubio said. "Sexual assault can happen to anyone and affects everyone."
After the period of reflection, victim advocates lit the lanterns symbolizing the banishment of darkness and taking back the night.
"Take Back the Night, to me, demonstrates a unified community, fighting and overcoming together," Williams said. "Regardless of gender, race, age, sexuality, we stand as one!"
United and together, women, men and children on Kadena Air Base rallied together to shatter the silence and stop the violence during Take Back the Night.