Passers-by near Churchill Square yesterday evening were greeted by more than 100 women and non-binary people sitting outside the shopping centre, releasing flares and chanting.
It was a demonstration by Sisters Uncut Brighton, a local branch of the national feminist group famed for bold protest tactics such as jumping on the red carpet at the ‘Suffragette’ premiere and dying the Trafalgar Square fountains red.
The group were opposing cuts to services which help victims of domestic violence, bearing luggage to represent escape plans. The event was scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day, but also with Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first Budget in Theresa May’s government.
The Chancellor announced a £20 million pot of funding for women’s services in yesterday’s Budget, but Sisters Uncut says this money will not alleviate the funding crisis for domestic violence services – they describe it as ‘sticking a plaster on a haemorrhage.
Sarah, a Sisters Uncut Brighton member who attended the protest, said: “I came today because I’m angry about the way the government has consistently neglected survivors of domestic violence.”
In 2015, Women’s Aid reported refuges are being forced to turn away two-thirds of domestic violence survivors who approach them to seek safety.
A spokesperson for Sisters Uncut Brighton said: “Experiences of misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and ableism leave us with a burden that is difficult to carry. Government cuts closing down our routes to safety and support burden us even more.”
Domestic and sexual violence support services in Brighton & Hove saw a 28% increase in referrals and an 11% increase in clients between April and September 2016. While Brighton & Hove City Council have not cut funding for domestic and sexual violence services in the area, funding has not been increased despite this significant rise in demand.
Photos by Erin Shannon