By New Worker correspondent
WOMEN’S rights activists from Sisters Uncut last Saturday closed Waterloo Bridge in both directions as part of a protest at the constant cutting of funding for women’s refuges from domestic violence.
The protest began with a rally in Trafalgar Square with a solemn reading of a very long list of women who have died in Britain in the last year from domestic violence.
Dozens of placards said: “They cut, we bleed” while others pointed out that two in three women seeking safety in a refuge is turned away because there is no room. But for women from black and ethnic minority communities the figure of four out of five turned away.
The banners and placards informed that black and ethnic minority women have suffered appalling cuts to the basic domestic violence services and called for the restoration of specialist centres to meet their needs.
And they demanded that migrant women and asylum seekers should not be denied help on the grounds of “no access to public funds” when their lives are in danger. “No sister is illegal,” they proclaimed.
And they accused the Government cuts of blocking women’s bridges to safety and promised to block the Government’s bridges in retaliation.
And they did – Waterloo Bridge in London and in similar actions around the country they blocked other bridges, including Bristol’s Red Cliff Bridge, the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle and the South Portland Suspension Bridge.
After brief speeches in Trafalgar Square and a loud, chanted, list of legal advice points, the sisters set off along the Strand, brandishing green and purple (the colours of the suffragette movement) smoke flares, heading for Waterloo Bridge.
They sat down in the middle of the road in the centre of the river crossing, chanting: “Sisters united will never be defeated” and other slogans, and stayed there for about an hour.
The Government claims it has set aside £20 million to help local authorities to provide services for survivors of domestic violence. Sisters Uncut said this meant services had to "fight each other for funding" and that it was "treating life-saving support like a prize to be won".