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Sisters Uncut Decries Austerity Measures With ‘Funeral Protest’

They mourned the women who die because they don’t have access to social services.

Image via the Sisters Uncut Facebook page

This week, Sisters Uncut, a U.K. feminist group, staged a demonstration of more than 500 women in Soho Square to protest austerity measures that have critically impaired social and health services for women around the country. The protesters arrived at the square dressed in mourning clothes, dyed the fountain water red, and chanted, “They cut, we bleed!” The “funeral protest” was also a commemoration of all the women who’ve died from domestic violence, and who were unable to receive help from shelters and other services.

“Through our march we want others to see that domestic violence is not purely a question of individual abuse, but closely tied to the state,” Sisters Uncut wrote in a statement for Dazed Digital. “Austerity policies are a form of gender violence in themselves: They result in women having nowhere to go when they flee violence, they remove welfare which survivors rely on, they close down refuges.“

Chancellor George Osborne (who occupies a position similar to that of the secretary of the treasury or minister of finance in other governments) announced budget cuts in his latest spending review, including a 20 percent cut to the public health budget (which comprises sexual health services and vaccinations). According to The Guardian, the social care sector—meaning policies that promote emotional and physical well-being—will be hit the hardest by the cuts.

Image via the Sisters Uncut Facebook page

These slashes to funding are felt more severely by women, particularly economically disadvantaged women, who can’t afford reproductive health services or have nowhere to go to escape abuse and violence in their homes. According to the British charity organization Women’s Aid, 17 percent of the U.K.’s safe refuges were shut down because of lack of funding since 2010.

“Cuts to funding are disproportionately closing down specialist services,” Sisters Uncut said. “These services are run by those who best know how, tailored to particular, frequently affected groups: black and minority ethnic (BME) women, LGBTQ+ people, and disabled women. Disabled women, for example, are twice as likely to experience domestic violence.”

Sisters Uncut last made headlines when they staged a protest on the red carpet for the U.K.’s Suffragette premiere in October.

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