Women will march through Oxford to protest against domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Similar ‘Reclaim the Night’ marches will be held countrywide in November in a bid to end violence against women.

The Reclaim the Night campaign also aims to raise awareness of sexual and domestic abuse, rape, harassment and forced marriage.

In Oxford, about 100 women are expected to gather at East Oxford Community Centre, in Cowley Road, at 6.30pm on Friday before marching to St Michael’s at the Northgate Church, in Cornmarket Street.

Organiser Clare Cochrane said: “These marches have a wonderful atmosphere. They are safe events where women can feel encouraged to speak out about matters that are really important to them but which are often difficult and painful to discuss.”

The marches have been taking place nationally since 1977. The event was revived in Oxford last year.

One of the aims of the march is to raise awareness of the fact many women are afraid to be out on the streets after dark.

Catherine House, of Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre, said: “Every woman has a right to walk on the streets of Oxford at night without fear of harassment, sexual assault or rape.”

Joint co-ordinator at the centre Hannah Clare added: “We're hoping to show the strength of women in Oxfordshire alongside the many Rec-laim the Night marches happening all over the world.

“In the 21st century, violence against women continues and women in the UK experience rape, sexual abuse, forced marriages and violent assaults from both male partners and men they don’t know.

“Films continue to portray violence against women as normal so young people continue to receive messages that violence against women and the harassment and coercion of women is acceptable. Attitudes need to change.”

Ms Clare said figures showed the rate of sexual violence in Oxfordshire was higher than the national average, at 1.3 offences per 1,000 people compared to 0.9 offences per 1,000 people nationally in 2008-9.

Reported rapes in the county rose by almost 20 per cent from 2007-8 to 2008-9, according to the police. Only 6.5 per cent of the reports resulted in conviction.

Ms Clare said: “Rape is not going away, yet a number of rape crisis centres across the UK face closure and there is no nationally funded rape crisis helpline.”

After the march a rally for both men and women will be held at St Michael’s at the Northgate.