Feminists occupy ‘Suffragette’ film premiere to oppose austerity (VIDEO)
At the opening of the London Film Festival on Wednesday, 14 activists from feminist group Sisters Uncut jumped over barriers and lay on the red carpet in protest against crippling cuts to domestic violence services in the UK.
More than 500 women attended the demonstration near Leicester Square’s Odeon cinema, many chanting, “Cuts kill!” while others set off smoke bombs.
“Two women are killed every week,” they also chanted.
Security guards reportedly picked up and pushed Sisters Uncut members over the barriers in an attempt to stop the protest, which caused delays to film screenings.
Suffragette, due to be released in the UK on October 12, tells the story of British women’s suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Speaking to RT about their motives behind the protest, Sisters Uncut said they were “demanding an end to cuts to domestic violence services caused by the Conservative government’s austerity measures.”
“Two women a week die at the hands of violent men, yet the government continues to remove vital funding for domestic violence support,” a spokesperson for the group said.
“Austerity has reduced the availability of refuges, benefits, social housing and legal aid. This makes it harder for women to flee violence.
“Austerity is sexist. Austerity is racist. With the astronomical rate of domestic violence in the UK, we need guaranteed funding for services that help women to live freely and safely. The story of the Suffragettes was only one part of the struggle for women’s liberation – the time is now.”
‘Perfect response to the movie’
In the midst of last night’s controversy, actors on the red carpet continued to sign autographs and speak to the media.
But actress Helena Bonham Carter, who stars in the film, praised Sisters Uncut, saying their protest was the “perfect response” to the movie.
“I’m glad our film has done something. That’s exactly what it’s there for,” she told Sky News at the premiere.
Romola Garai, who also appears in the movie, said she was pleased to see the suffrage movement “alive and happening.”
“I haven’t spoken to them [the protesters] or seen their demands but I’m happy to see the suffrage movement is alive and happening,” she said.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 1.4 million women in England and Wales have suffered domestic abuse in the last year.
Two women a week are killed by a former or current partner, the figures show. According to charity Refuge, one in four women in England will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Between 2010 and 2014, 32 specialist women’s refuges were closed, according to Sisters Uncut.
Women’s Aid research shows that 155 women and 103 children are turned away from vital refuges on a daily basis in the UK as there is no space for them.
In the past four years, over 30 of these support centers were closed, meaning women desperate to leave abusive partners are forced to endure the situation or are forced into homelessness.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron said the government would look into creating a separate offence of domestic violence. He said the UK needs to “get to grips” with the issue.
But soon after he announced this, former Labour leader Ed Miliband accused him of letting down victims when the PM dismissed calls for a woman who needed protection from her violent ex-partner to be exempt from the bedroom tax.