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Why are Sisters Uncut holding a funeral for women’s services?

28 Nov 2015

Since David Cameron and his band of austerity troopers came into power in 2010, women’s services have been obliterated, particularly specialist services for minority women suffering from domestic violence. However, Sisters Uncut, one of the most visible feminist organisations operating in this remit, are committed in taking direct action against such cuts.

You might remember their riot on the red carpet; where they used their bodies as a means of protest at the Suffragette premiere. They successfully used protest to champion their cause of fighting austerity against women’s domestic violence services. Today they are holding a funeral for all the women’s services and women’s lives which have been lost at the hands of the Conservatives under the hashtag #youcutwebleed.

It has been estimated that 1.4 million women fell victim to domestic violence in 2014 alone, with those living in poverty being three times more likely to be affected. Despite this, in a recent article for The Huffington Post, Sister’s Uncut member Lucy Strange highlighted how a staggering 30 specialist women’s services for those fleeing violence have been shut down since 2010, as the result of an ongoing battle against austerity measures. The most recent organisation closed down is Eaves, which shut its doors this month. Eaves had been around since 1977, providing a whole host of services for women including services for victims of trafficking with their well known Poppy Project.

The services which have been most heavily affected are those for minority women and the LGBTQ community. How can David Cameron speak about his commitment to equality when clearly the lives of women of colour and other marginalised people are of little to no worth under our current political climate? His article in the Guardian professing that the Conservatives are “the party of equality” is simply absurd. These claims of combatting discrimination on the grounds of sex and race lie in direct contradiction with cuts, which effectively sanction abuses against the aforementioned.

The numerous cuts to local government directly affect women’s services as this is where grants and other sources of funding for such services are located. Sister’s Uncut are demanding funding which is sustainable for organisations providing these essential women’s services. If David Cameron really is committed to equality the ability for budgets to be manipulated in order to serve “higher” causes (aka maintaining the political elites position of power and quash the voices of the marginalised) must be stopped.

The importance of collective action in supporting protests, like the one being held by Sisters Uncut today at Soho Square, lobbying and working with MPs, is more imperative now than ever before. Advocacy groups have been successful in pushing issues such as the detention of asylum seeking women into the forefront of British politics. Let’s hope that the same can be done in the case of domestic services.

David Cameron’s unwavering commitment to cuts in the name of austerity is basically a f**k you to women across the UK, women who are vulnerable and whose lives are at risk. Sisters Uncut are completely accurate when they scream “you cut we bleed”. The government has a lot to answer for as services continue to decline. We here at gal-dem are sending our solidarity and love to Sisters Uncut and all those whose lives have been lost where prevention was possible.