Sunday, 28 May 2017

Feminist group Sisters Uncut have occupied the recently closed Holloway Prison to demand the government fund domestic violence services

Sisters Uncut activists on the roof of old Holloway Prison visitor’s centre, 27/05/2017. 
Credit: North London Sisters Uncut

From Sisters Uncut 

At 14:30 on Saturday 27th May, feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut occupied Holloway Prison Visitor’s Centre to demand that the empty space be used to support local domestic violence survivors. Eight activists entered the building via an open window, as 150 rallied outside. No arrests have been made.

The action comes in advance of the general election. Sisters Uncut say that chaotic Conservative budgets have decimated the number of refuges in the UK and warn that the domestic violence sector is on its last legs. According to Women’s Aid, refuges are now being forced to turn away two thirds of women seeking safety.

Sisters Uncut claim to be the ‘voice of domestic violence survivors’ in this election. They criticise Theresa May for failing to deliver her promise to make it easier for domestic violence survivors to vote in. This means that many survivors are locked out of voting for fear that their abuser will track them down via their address.

Holloway Prison, the largest women’s prison in Western Europe, closed suddenly in 2016 and the buildings have been left empty since. Sisters Uncut plan to maintain their ‘reclamation’ for a week, holding workshops on women’s well being, self-defence and legal rights.

Sisters Uncut activist Aisha Streetson said:
We are reclaiming the former prison, a site of violence, to demand that public land is used for public good. Prisons are an inhumane response to social problems faced by vulnerable women – the government should provide a better answer.
A local domestic violence support worker, Lauren Massing, who is attending the protest said:
If the government have money for mega prisons, they have money for domestic violence support services. 46% of women in prison are domestic violence survivors – if they had the support they needed, it’s likely they wouldn’t end up in prison

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