The lead up to the premiere of Suffragette has not been without hitches—in an interview, Meryl Streep said she was a ‘humanist’ rather than a feminist (a sentiment she later clarified), and promotional photos featuring the all-white cast wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” were criticized for ignoring the work of women of color. And then, on Wednesday, the UK premiere of the film was interrupted by protesters seeking to raise awareness about cuts to domestic violence support services.
Around 500 demonstrators held signs—one read, “Dead women can’t vote”—and 14 women broke away from the main pack, shouting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom,” and lay prostrate on the red carpet, linking arms and shouting, “David Cameron take note, dead women can’t vote.”
“We believe that all women facing domestic violence should be able to access support and safety,” said Janelle Brown, member of Sisters Uncut in a press release. “Clearly the government do not share this belief, as they are removing funding for life-saving support services.”
The UK has been criticized for its lack of a “consistent and coherent” way to combat violence against women. The Guardian reports:
Domestic violence remains a profound problem in the UK with crime surveys for England and Wales revealing that 30% of women reported having experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16 with 7% revealing it had happened during the last year. According to the Femicide census, 126 women were killed through male violence in 2012, 143 in 2013 and 150 in 2014.
Helena Bonham Carter, who stars in the film, praised the demonstration:
“If you feel strongly enough about something and there’s an injustice there you can speak out and try to get something changed,” she said in an interview with Sky News. “It’s the perfect response to our film.”
“I would like to be as brave as that,” Carey Mulligan agreed.
Correction: A previous version of this article said Janelle Brown was president of Sisters Uncut. The group does not have official leadership positions.
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Image via Sisters Uncut.