Three years on from storming the red carpet at the Suffragette London premiere, Sisters Uncut has once again shown its fierce feminist courage by crashing the iconic red carpet at the BAFTAS and calling #TimesUpTheresa on May’s upcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. Ten protesters jumped over barriers wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Time’s Up Theresa”.

Sisters Uncut is a feminist direct action group, which was set up in 2014 to fight the extensive cuts to services for survivors of domestic violence, which has seen budgets slashed by a quarter since 2010. These cuts are life threatening, and have thrown women back into the same danger that the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 70s and 80s sought to eradicate. This is the spirit in which we organise.

This piece of legislation is a dangerous distraction that will criminalise survivors”

At first glance, a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill sounds like it’s a win for domestic violence activists. It’s actually the opposite. This piece of legislation is a dangerous distraction that will criminalise survivors while taking attention away from the devastating funding cuts to domestic violence services nationwide. Instead of using this opportunity to fund housing and support services for domestic violence survivors to escape abuse, the government is focusing on sentencing.

The Bill is still currently under consultation in parliament, but Theresa May has made it clear that she intends to use the Bill to increase police powers over domestic violence and toughen sentences. When police are given increased power to tackle domestic violence it leads to a pro-arrest environment in which everyone involved will be more likely to be arrested. As a result, the number of victims wrongfully arrested by police rises – this has been proven by research from the US. We already know that 57% of women in prison have experienced domestic abuse and that criminalising survivors is extremely dangerous – as shown in recent reports about the death of Katrina O’Hara who was wrongly investigated by the police instead of her violent partner, who later murdered her.

“As well as calling Time’s Up on individual perpetrators of abuse, we must call Time’s Up on the government putting survivors in danger”

Once again, we claimed space on the red carpet to show that the government doesn’t care about survivors. May’s upcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill will leave them locked up by a harmful criminal justice system, locked out of refuges or locked into violent situations.

Those who share their stories using the #MeToo hashtag demonstrated how prevalent gendered violence still is in our society. The Times Up campaign is demanding an end to this abuse, and we at Sisters Uncut have added our voices loud and clear to the global Time’s Up Campaign. The campaign was inspired by the message of solidarity from a Latin women farm workers union in the US, who are working to end harassment in their own workplaces, and reached to Hollywood actors who have experienced sexual abuse. Like them, we recognise that gendered violence is connected and that disclosure requires support. As well as calling Time’s Up on individual perpetrators of abuse, we must call Time’s Up on the government putting survivors in danger.

We stand in solidarity with the other activists on the red carpet, including Imkaan, Black Pride and Equal Pay.

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