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Donning “Time’s Up, Theresa” T-shirts, activists lay on the red carpet in protest at the Prime Minister’s imminent Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which they argue will criminalise survivors.
Inspired by the global Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment, they chanted: “The DV Bill’s a cover-up, Theresa May, your time is up.”
The Bill, which is still under consultation in Parliament, is designed to bring in tougher sentences and “deliver more convictions” for domestic violence.
However, Sisters Uncut warn it will leave survivors of domestic violence “locked up in prison, locked out of refuges and locked in to violent relationships” as police investigate victims.
They warned survivors face much greater risks when they report abuse to police, as in the recent case of a rape victim being detained and threatened with deportation.
The group also highlighted the recent case of Katrina O’Hara, who was murdered when police took her phone to investigate her violent partner.
Research by the Prison Reform Trust found that more than half of women in prison are survivors of domestic violence, who, activists argue, should have received support not jail sentences.
Suzanne Da Costa, a domestic violence helpline worker who took part in the protest, said: “Imagine calling the police for help and ending up in a police cell.
“It’s incredibly traumatic and a story I’ve heard too often from survivors.
“We shouldn’t be giving the police more power. We should be giving power back to survivors.”
The group also claim the Bill is a “dangerous distraction” from devastating funding cuts to domestic violence services nationwide.
Since 2010 refuge budgets have been slashed by almost a quarter, resulting in 1,000 women and children being turned away by refuges over a six-month period, according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism.
Sisters Uncut’s Ana Kaur, who took part in the protest, said: “We are in solidarity with the Time’s Up campaign.
“As well as calling Time’s Up on individual perpetrators, we have to call Time’s Up on our government for failing to provide us with real options and support.”
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