UK

Sisters Uncut Barricade Treasury To Protest Budget Cuts

"There are several doors to the Treasury but only one safe way out of a violent relationship."

14/03/2016 15:17 GMT | Updated 14/03/2016 15:28 GMT

Domestic violence campaigners have barricaded the Treasury in a protest over cuts to vital services for vulnerable people, ahead of this week's Budget. 

Protesters from Sisters Uncut said they wanted to "highlight the need to ring-fence funding for domestic violence services" and claimed that George Osborne "pushes aside women in his cuts".

 

Armed with a wooden fence, the 20 or so protesters wrote on Twitter that the Treasury closed the door on them: "Just like the 1 in 3 survivors turned away from refuges [because] of cuts".

The group said three police vans, four officers on bikes and two police on foot attended the scene, in what was described as a "distraction from the [people] the Treasury kills". 

Activists said they were surprised at the angry reaction the public had to the protest. 

One member of the group, Rachel Gibbons, said a commuter assaulted her, calling her a "vile bitch" and pulling out some of her hair.

After the alleged attack Gibbons said: ‘We were expecting aggression from the police, but not members of the public. People should be angry about the fact that women are dying because they can’t flee abuse, not about us peacefully drawing attention to it".

The Metropolitan Police told the Huffington Post UK no reports had been made. 

 

Kat Vail, a member of Sisters Uncut, spoke out about the group's aims for the Treasury.

“We have a very basic demand: The government must ring-fence funding for domestic violence services. This is the only way to make sure they can stay running and keep saving women’s lives. Domestic violence is high in the UK – 1 in 3 women will experience it – yet services that support survivors are being forced to close because the government won’t put a secure funding plan in place," she said.

 

Specialist domestic violence services that support women in minority groups decreased by 17% between 2010 and 2014, the group said.

Osborne announced short-term gestures towards domestic violence services in both 2015 budgets.

In November 2015, he announced a £40m ‘tampon tax’ fund that domestic violence services can apply to over the next four years.

At the time feminist action group Sisters Uncut described the measure as nothing but “a sticking plaster on a haemorrhage”, and said that the only adequate model to guarantee women’s safety is "long-term, ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services."

Specialist domestic violence services are funded by local councils, whose budgets have been halved by Osborne, the group added.

“Vital services and the women they support face a precarious future, and already areas of the country are returning to a time before refuges existed.”

Sisters Uncut maintain that austerity is a sexist, racist choice.

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