‘The Battle Isn’t Over Yet’: Why Feminists Protested at a Movie About Women’s Suffrage

The demonstration was intended to raise awareness about budget cuts to domestic violence services.
Protesters lit smoke flares on the sidelines of the London Film Festival premiere of 'Suffragette' in central London on Oct. 7. (Photo: AFP/Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Oct 7, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Smoke bombs went off at a London movie theater on Wednesday, setting a dramatic scene ripped from the screen. A group of feminists stormed the red carpet at the premiere of Suffragette, yelling, “The battle isn’t over yet!”

In the new historical drama, early-20th-century activists are shown going to great—and often violent—lengths to win women the right to vote. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst, the militant foot soldiers for equality at the ballot box set off bombs, cut electric wiring, and even ran in front of speeding horses to force British leaders to pay attention to their cause.

The more than 100 protesters at the London Film Festival were activists from Sisters Uncut, a grassroots advocacy group that seeks to raise awareness and push the government to restore funding for domestic violence services.

“We believe that all women facing domestic violence should be able to access support and safety,” Janelle Brown, a representative from the group, told The Guardian. “Clearly the government do not share this belief, as they are removing funding for life-saving support services.”

Overall, about 1.4 million women—or an estimated 8.5 percent of the U.K. population—reported experiencing domestic abuse in the past year, according to a 2015 report from national authorities. Yet, nearly a third of referrals for shelter by domestic abuse survivors were turned away owing to lack of space, the U.K. charity Women’s Aid reported in 2014.

Just over 30 percent of government funding to the domestic violence and sexual abuse sector was cut in England between 2010–2011 and 2011–2012, according to a report by Sylvia Walby, UNESCO Chair in Gender Research at Lancaster University. Walby crunched the numbers to find a $2.4 million reduction in funding over that one year alone.

The issue of domestic violence is a global problem, and many developed countries lack adequate resources for women desperate to flee abuse and violence. In the United States, domestic violence programs are drastically underfunded and understaffed, according to a 2014 survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
The organization found that in just one 24-hour period, more than 10,000 requests by survivors for services went unmet. A majority of those requests were for housing. Programs across the country cited reduced government funding, inadequate staffing, and reduced private and individual donations as the primary sources of their unmet requests for help.