Feminist activists have dyed Trafalgar Square’s fountains red after hundreds of women marched through London’s West End in a noisy protest against cuts to domestic violence services.
The demonstration, styled as a funeral procession for the victims of domestic violence, blocked roads and stopped traffic on a route that took the protesters from Soho to Trafalgar Square.
“They cut we bleed,” chanted marchers.
Saturday’s demonstration took place after George Osborne announced deep cuts to council budgets this week, which activists said would have a disastrous impact on services for women affected by domestic violence.
More than 30 specialist anti-domestic violence services have been forced to shut down since 2010, with many other services taken over by non-specialist providers. Further cuts will put the services that are left at risk, campaigners say.
Sarah Kwei, an activist with Sisters Uncut, the group that called the protest, said: “This is specifically a reaction to the 25 November, when the budget was announced and £4.1bn of cuts. That was the same day as the Elimination of Violence against Women Day.
“These cuts are going to affect women who are trying to flee domestic violence, through their benefits, their housing and their refuges. They are all being cut. We are taking direct action to say we are not going away. When two women a week are being killed by domestic violence, we can’t take it, we can’t accept it.”
Zara Khan, a domestic violence support worker, said: “Every day I fight for women’s lives and now I am fighting for my ability to do that. The government should be making it easier, not more difficult, for women to flee life-threatening violence.”