These Sisters Uncut selected political groups provide an antidote to Britain under Conservative rule
In 2016 our political consciousness may often only extend to a quick signature on an online petition, but one group that have managed to disprove the stereotypes that all of us ‘millenials’ are apathetic and apolitical are Dazed 100 stars Sisters Uncut. Fighting Tory-enforced cuts to women’s services, the women involved have transcended their initial action group model, expanding to three areas of London and remaining firmly rooted in the IRL world as a political movement actually influencing change.
Almost one year into a Britain under sole Conservative rule, it’s not a stretch to say the state of our political climate is bleak. Whether it’s the abolishment of student grants, the fact two women a week die at the hands of their current/former partner, or the increasing lack of social and affordable housing, we’re increasingly seeing the impact of how government policy can adversely affect our lives.
To date, some of the groups most disruptive protests include storming the film premier of Suffragette, barricading government buildings and filling Trafalgar Square with pools of fake blood. Ultimately, Sisters Uncut and their action ready approach to activism remind us the importance of moving away from our keyboards, taking up real tangible space and fighting for what we believe in. Below we ask the group to lay down five further organisations providing an antidote to Tory Britain.
“The government are about to bring in a housing bill that could mean the closure of most of the domestic violence refuges in the country. You read that correctly. At the moment, refuges can claim housing benefit on behalf of each person staying with them to cover costs, but the Housing Bill would limit the amount people can claim on housing benefit from £300 to £100. With funding slashed by two-thirds, most refuges will face a desperate situation.
Lack of social housing, especially in London, is already one of the main factors trapping people into violent situations. Many domestic violence victims are unable to find affordable, long-term places to live, and may stay in abusive relationships as a result. Legal aid for housing matters has also been cut. We team up with groups campaigning for housing justice as much as possible. We loved Radical Housing Network’s cunning distribution of 40,000 copies of ‘Standard Evening’ across London – informing Londoners of the wrongdoings of their government when they least expect it.”
“So many people find renewed fire for the struggle after attending the Shut Down Yarls Wood protests, organised by Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary. We have protested many times alongside MFJ against the racist, sexist women’s immigration prison Yarls Wood – led by migrant women on both sides of the fence. Many of these women are fleeing persecution and violence in their own countries, see, for example, the struggles of queer asylum seekers against deportation – only to be locked up in Britain’s immigration prisons when their claims are rejected, or their Visa expires.
Many are survivors of domestic violence, and experience further violence at the hands of prison guards from companies such as Serco, who profit from migrant misery. Under this government, there are so many barriers to migrant women escaping situations of domestic violence: many do not have access to welfare benefits, which means they can’t access refuges or social housing. They therefore have to rent in the private sector, where rents can be extortionate. On top of this, the government has recently brought in a law requiring landlords to carry out immigration checks. If migrant women facing abuse cannot rent privately, they face homelessness, deportation and imprisonment in places such as Yarls Wood.”
“Ian Duncan Smith may be making a tactical retreat now by resigning, but his cuts to welfare payments for disabled people have already cost thousands of lives. The government has been cutting all forms of support which were small recognitions of the barriers created by our society for disabled people. The closure of the Independent Living Fund, the introduction of ESA and the categorisation of people as ‘fit to work’ despite disabilities have all meant greater vulnerability and isolation for thousands of disabled people. The UK has since become the only country in the world to be investigated by the UN for violating the human rights of disabled people.
DPAC have been one of the most frontline anti-austerity groups. They formed in 2010 but draw on a long history of grassroots radicalism. They have occupied the lobby of Parliament several times, most recently to protest Osborne’s cuts to the Employment Support Allowance. Disabled women are 2-3 times more likely to experience domestic violence, and the systematic dismantling of all social security has meant greater risk. We stand alongside DPAC in saying that disabled people should not be the target of cost-cutting exercises by the government, as the Tories are currently doing.”
“We recently held a party at DIY Space, a co-operatively run social centre in south London. Co-op means there are no bosses. Our party brought together musicians, craft-makers, poets and filmmakers to raise money for Sisters to carry on our actions. It fit perfectly with the ethos of DIY Space, which aims to collectively maintain a space through where we have the means to make culture by ourselves and for ourselves. DIY Space hold a diverse mix of events such as feminist gigs, drumming workshops, pay-what-you-can yoga, film screenings, and more. They offer low-cost venue and meeting room space for community and activist groups. Spaces like this are rare and radical, in a city which can feel alienating, elitist and impossibly expensive by turns.”
“The Tories want to weaken the health system so they can justify privatising it, and we should listen to health workers when they tell us how dangerous these changes to the NHS are. Many services are being shrunk down or cut altogether; these include services such as sexual health services and ambulance services. These kinds of services are vital for people experiencing domestic and sexual violence. The most recent changes force doctors to work longer, anti-social hours and will cut nurses’ bursaries altogether, providing loans which mean they are effectively paying to work. The NHS is one of the world’s biggest employers, and 77% of this workforce are women, many of them migrants. Cuts to public sector jobs (e.g. schools, health care) have brought female unemployment in the UK to an all-time high, pushing women into positions of economic vulnerability. This, in turn, means more women exposed to violence with less means to escape it.”