Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

City march to 'reclaim the night'

Women marching in Leeds
The marches were first held in the 1970s

About 300 women have marched through Leeds city centre to campaign for better services for the victims of rape and sexual attacks.

The Reclaim the Night event was organised by a number of women's groups and students in the city.

It forms part of an international programme of events to highlight efforts to end violence against women.

Organisers said the demonstration also aimed to highlight rape conviction rates, which they say are too low.

The first Reclaim the Night marches were held in Leeds in the 1970s.

Organisers said all women should be able to live without the fear of rape and sexual violence.

A rally was held outside the city's Civic Hall after Saturday night's march.

Louise Westbrooke, who helped arrange the demonstration, said: "Women do not ask to be raped and they are not to blame for being assaulted and abused.

"Telling women not to go out at night is not a good enough response to rape and sexual violence."

Organisers said recent research put the rape conviction rate in West Yorkshire at 8.3%.

Det Sup Ingrid Lee, of West Yorkshire Police's crime division, said: "Often (in alleged sex attacks) it is one person's account against another person's account and there is no other evidence, so it is very, very difficult.

"We have introduced a dedicated rape unit who are highly trained and highly specialised in what they do."



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