THE FOUNTAINS in Trafalgar Square ran red with dye on Saturday 28th November , symbolising the blood shed by women victims of domestic violence, in a powerful protest at the loss of 32 domestic violence refuges around the country due to the austerity cuts.
The event was organised by the campaigning group Sisters Uncut – many of whom have been victims of domestic violence.
It started with a rally of around 500 women in Soho Square, many dressed in mourning with black veils, who stood in a circle and read out the 100-plus names of women who have been murdered by their partners or ex-partners within the last year.
Many local authorities have been forced by the Tory austerity cuts to reduce or close domestic violence services.
Last year more than 6,000 women in desperate need were turned away from the remaining over-full refuges. This leaves them with a choice of going back to a home where they are in danger or trying to live on the streets as beggars – and this also is not a safe option.
Yet in last week’s Autumn Budget Statement Chancellor George Osborne said that he planned to cut another 56 per cent from local authority services and domestic violence refuges, and services are likely to completely disappear.
Osborne has said he will use the money generated by the seven per cent VAT charged on tampons and sanitary pads to fund women’s centres and refuges. But speakers were angry that a tax they are forced to pay for a basic necessity will become the only funding for women’s services.
Speakers at the rally likened this to “putting a sticking plaster on a haemorrhage”. They said the responsibility for supporting women’s services that save women from dying at the hands of violent partners is that of the whole population. On average two women a week in Britain are killed by their partners or ex-partners.
The rally set off with many banners and placards, chanting loudly all the way down the Charing Cross Road.
One banner, fringed by dangling red-dyed tampons, proclaimed: “This blood won’t wash the blood from Osborne’s hands.” Another said: “Our blood should not pay for our rape.”
They paused for a brief occupation at major intersections like Cambridge Circus and in front of St Martin-in-the-Fields, where a loud cheer went up as they blocked traffic from all directions.
The march ended in Trafalgar Square, with more speeches and adding red dye to the fountains. “They cut; we bleed” was the message.
The protest coincided with the United Nations International Day for Ending Violence Against Women.
Sisters Uncut are demanding no cuts to domestic violence support services, and guaranteed funding for specialist support for those helping help black and minority ethnic women.