While the red carpet at last night’s premiere of Suffragette in London’s Leicester Square was awash with stars including Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, they weren’t the main talking point of the evening.
Picture the scene, Helena Bonham Carter is posing on the red carpet with her messy but oh-so-perfect hair piled on top of her head, while fans of Meryl and Carey wait in eager anticipation for a glimpse of the stars…so far, so normal for a London premiere of a soon-to-be blockbuster, right?
Not quite. While all this was going on, more than a hundred feminist protestors from the activist group, Sisters Uncut jumped the barriers. With plumes of green and purple smoke filling the air, they triumphantly shouted ‘the battle isn’t over yet’ and chanted ‘dead women can’t vote’.
Their cause? One we can all get on board with: campaigning against the funding cuts to domestic violence services, particularly ones which support women of black and minority ethnicity (BME).
While you may expect such disruption to irk some stars, Bonham Carter – who plays Edith Ellyn in the film – remained undeterred and continued signing posters and posing for pictures like the Class A act she is.
While being interviewed by Sky News at the premiere, she said: ‘I’m glad our film has done something. That’s exactly what it’s there for,’ before stating that she thought the protest was the ‘perfect’ response to the film, which centres on the suffragette movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Two women a week die at the hands of a current or former partner in the UK. Let that sink in. Shocked? We are too. And what’s worse, 32 of the domestic violence services that have closed since 2010 were specifically for women of colour.
Shantha Masters, who works as a support worker for a specialist group for women of South Asian origin, said she was protesting because she was angry about the cuts to domestic violence support services: ‘But I am also here to represent – to show that all women of all backgrounds have rights and if they are not met we will take action until they are.’
Some protestors, like Latifa pointed out that the film didn’t represent women of colour, stating: ‘It’s timely because the cast of the film is entirely white and they are running with this slogan, ‘I’d rather be a rebel than a slave’ which implies passivity or acceptance of being a slave. But it also ignores the fact that women of colour were completely involved in the suffragette struggle. This film isn’t representing them.’
What do you think of the protests?