We are Sisters Uncut. As women and gender-variant people who live under the threat of domestic violence, we fight alongside all those who experience domestic, sexual, gendered, and state violence in their daily lives. We are fighting for our right to live in safety. We are fighting for our lives.
Austerity is a political choice with fatal consequences. Cuts make it harder to leave dangerous situations, live safely, and heal from trauma. Safety is a right not a privilege.
Doors are being slammed on survivors* of violence. Refuges are being shut down, legal aid has been cut, social housing is scarce and the benefits system is being destroyed. The government is building prisons not refuges, opening immigration detention centres not Rape Crisis centres, and arming the police, not funding mental health support. Vital domestic violence services are being de-specialised by local councils who are selling off contracts to the lowest bidder.
To secure safety for survivors, we must also fight the other forms of oppression that we face. As intersectional feminists we understand that a person’s individual experience of violence is affected by interconnecting and mutually reinforcing systems of oppression. These include but are not limited to: sexism, racism, anti-blackness, classism, disableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, whorephobia, fat-phobia, islamophobia, and antisemitism. We fight for the safety of all of our siblings: we work in solidarity with the movements for trans liberation and sex worker rights.
Domestic and sexual violence do not exist in a vacuum. The systems of power and privilege in our society enable and protect the actions of perpetrators. This creates a cycle of violence, which can only be broken through transforming society.
To those in power, our message is this: your cuts are violent, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted people who you perceive as powerless.
We are those people. We are Sisters Uncut. We will not be silenced.
These are our demands:
- Provide the funding needed for specialist domestic violence services to meet the needs of all survivors.
- A long term funding plan from central, local, and devolved government. Funding must go to specialist organisations. Services must be run for survivors not for profit.
- The services funded must offer flexible, trauma-informed support from the early stages, through crisis and into recovery. They must be accessible to all survivors, who must be able to choose to access services run for and by their community.
- Sexual abuse services are in crisis. We demand long term, secure funding for specialist sexual violence services that provide advocacy, health care, and counselling both in crisis and through long term recovery.
- Poverty, economic insecurity, and welfare cuts kill. We demand universal access to a benefits system that treats people with respect; a real living wage; reproductive justice; and health and social care provision. There is no safety without welfare.
- The UK immigration system is racist and violent. Access to safety and services should not be dependent on immigration status. End no recourse to public funds.
- Survivors are being trapped in violent situations by councils refusing them housing. We demand access to safe and secure social housing for all, with priority to survivors. Build more council homes.
- The cycle of violence must be broken through a holistic and comprehensive LGBTQI+ inclusive strategy to educate all on gender, sex and relationships, and systemic power dynamics, led by survivors and specialist services.
- The criminal justice system does not work for survivors. We need a system that does not ignore, neglect and re-traumatise. Survivors must not be criminalised.
- The family court system requires complete reform in order to provide safety for survivors. Guarantee access to legal aid.
(*) We use the term ‘survivor’ when referring to those who have experienced or are experiencing violence and abuse, but we know that this language isn’t perfect. We recognise the resourcefulness and resistance of those living with the impacts of violence whether in the present or the past. We acknowledge that not everyone who experiences or has experienced abuse defines themselves as a ‘survivor’, and that society may determine who is allowed to identify as one. We also recognise that not everyone does survive domestic, sexual, gendered, and/or state violence; we remember those who haven’t in our fight.