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March for freedom from fear.

Byline: Mike Underwood

Scores of women and children marched through Middlesbrough in a demonstration to highlight Teesside's streets of fear.

Middlesbrough Domestic Violence Forum (MDVF) organised last night's march to highlight the rights of women and vulnerable people to walk freely without fear of violence or crime.

An esimated 70 people, escorted by police officers, waved banners and sang as they marched through Linthorpe Road into the town centre.

Becky Rogers, MDVF co-ordinator, said: "We marched right into the heart of town and made a lot of noise and had a lot of banners. It was a really great evening - we are really pleased with it.

"The point was to make a demonstration that women are not safe on the streets at nights.

"The whole demonstration was about violence against women that keeps them off the streets."

Marchers were given cheers of support as the peaceful demonstration passed along Linthorpe Road.

"The turnout was quite good considering the short notice and it was a cold night.

"Some young women came out of shops to follow the march which was a good sign of support," Becky said.

She added: "The general perception about town and city centres throughout the country is that they are not safe for women and vulnerable people at night."

The march was launched as part of the domestic violence forum's International Day of Action to Stop Violence Against Women activities.

It comes days after the Gazette revealed how cases of domestic violence on Teesside have rocketed to record levels. From April 2002 to the end of March this year, a total of 6,369 incidents of domestic violence were reported to Cleveland Police.

But to November this year, they had already received 5,298 reports.

This week, Redcar MP Vera Baird welcomed new provisions to give more support to victims of domestic violence which were outlined in the Queens Speech this week.

She said: "The proposed Domestic Violence and Victims Bill will ensure that no longer does the criminal justice system fail to give people who have already suffered from crime the support they need.

"The changes will play a role in stamping out the evil of domestic violence which is increasing appallingly on Teesside."
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 28, 2003
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