Police were called in when Sisters Uncut staged a political demonstration on the 2018 BAFTA Film Awards red carpet.
Wearing black and purple tops that read “Time’s Up, Theresa,” about a dozen protesters from Sisters Uncut stormed the Royal Albert Hall before the BAFTAs on Sunday (18 Feb).
The feminist activists then linked arms and lined up in force, with some even lying down on the red carpet to make their point.
Police were called and, despite holding their position for several minutes, the group were soon led away. No arrests were made and the protesters made no contact with famous guests.
In a statement, the group said that the protest was in response to the forthcoming domestic violence bill, which Theresa May has said will deliver more convictions for violent offenders, but which critics believe will result in an increase in the number of survivors of abuse being arrested or detained.
“Sisters Uncut say that these measures skirt the government’s responsibility to support all survivors of domestic violence, leaving them locked up in prison, locked out of refuges, and locked in to violent relationships,” the statement said.
“We are in solidarity with the Time’s Up campaign. Like the Alianza Nacional De Campesinas, we recognise that gender-based violence happens everywhere, and that to disclose abuse requires support.
“As well as calling Time’s Up on individual perpetrators, we have to call Time’s Up on our government for failing to provide us with real options and support”.
We stormed the @BAFTA red carpet to protest Theresa May’s upcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which will criminalise survivors while distracting from devastating funding cuts to domestic violence services nationwide. #TimesUp pic.twitter.com/rDPaDx0wGC— Sisters Uncut (@SistersUncut) February 18, 2018
Suzanne Da Costa, a domestic violence helpline worker who took part in the protest, added: “Imagine calling the police for help and ending up in a police cell – it’s incredibly traumatic and a story I’ve heard too often from survivors.
“We shouldn’t be giving the police more power, we should be giving power back to survivors”.
It is worth noting that the government’s proposed changes to the funding of women’s refuges have been widely criticised since they were made public.
Just a few weeks ago, abuse survivors and charities delivered a petition (containing 168,000 signatures) to the Prime Minister, warning that the proposed Domestic Violence Bill will prevent women from paying for stays in refuges using their housing benefit – putting some of the most vulnerable women at risk. Indeed, charity Women’s Aid has warned that the changes could “force more than a third of refuges into closure”.
MP Jess Phillips, who used to work in a refuge, previously said that people “don’t realise” the extent of the problem of domestic violence unless they work in abuse services.
“I met women who have been left under a table and fed scraps from the fridge by their children when their dad isn’t looking, I have seen women who were raped and abused every night of their lives,” she said.
“These are people who are living in terror and fear - without somewhere to go they will continue to live in totally marginalised lives but the risk of death, ill-health and their children not doing as well in school is so high.”
And Sisters Uncut’s official website notes: “Refuge budgets have been slashed by almost a quarter, resulting in 1,000 women and children being turned away by refuges over a six-month period, according to The Bureau for Investigative Journalism.
“This is set to worsen if the government proceeds with plans to remove housing benefit funding from refuges.”
Women’s Aid is calling on supporters to sign a petition to stop the planned changes to funding for women’s refuges. You can do so here.
Images: Rex Features