Demonstration at Royal Courts of Justice – Raising the alarm on police violence against women

Demonstration at Royal Courts of Justice

On Tuesday 2 November at 15:30 we joined Sisters Uncut, Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike, Women Against Rape and Black Lives Matter to deliver a letter of complaint against the rampant violence against women within the UK police force.

Crowds gathered and with the accompaniment of rape alarms, whistles and flares we entered into the Royal Courts of Justice to read out the letter.

Speeches were delivered at the protest by members of Sisters Uncut, Feminist Fightback, Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike and Women Against Rape. Also joining the speakers was Patsy Stevenson, the woman who was brutally pinned to the ground by Police during the vigil for Sarah Everard in March 2020.

Feminist Fightback’s speech

Below is the full text of Feminist Fightback’s speech on the day:

Hello everybody. Im from Feminist Fightback – an anti-capitalist feminist collective that is proud to be supporting this action today.

Im not going to repeat everything thats already been said about the horrific extent of police violence thats been brought to the publics attention since the murders of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. But I do think its worth taking another moment to contemplate these stomach-turning statistics. So here we go:

·       Last week 63 police officers have been found abusing their powers for sexual gain.

·       750 Metropolitan police officers have been accused of sexual misconduct since 2010, only 83 were sacked.

·       15 officers have killed women since 2009.

·       Police are 1/3 less likely to be convicted of domestic abuse than are the general public.

Behind each of these facts and figures is a real person. Usually a woman who has been violated by a patriarchal police force drunk on power. And when confronted by the indisputable facts that make up this picture of institutionalised misogyny in the police, what does our government decide to do? They decide to give them more power, to make them even less accountable, to clear the way for even more harassment and abuse of women, Black people, Gypsy Roma traveller and working-class communities. Im referring, of course, to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently in the House of Lords.

This Bill will increase prison sentences, when we know that almost 2/3 of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse. It makes a mockery of the Tories family values rhetoric, given it will result in Gypsy Roma Traveller families being forced apart. An amendment to the bill proposes to further criminalise sex work, driving the industry underground, making it harder for sex workers to earn a living and to exit dangerous situations.

Please dont believe the handful of Labour MPs who claim that if we tinker with the edges of the Bill – add an amendment that makes misogyny a hate crime – that we can turn this into a piece of legislation that will help women. This just gives cover to the Tories hypocritical claim that the Bill is about making women safer. As feminists, were here to say loud and clear that more state power, more police in nightclubs, another £50 million app that will track our movements when we walk home at night… is not what we need!

Domestic abuse, sexual violence and misogynistic murders are real and terrible problems. But the idea that the police are there to protect us is a dangerous myth that many Black women, trans women, sex workers and working-class women have always known is a lie. Instead, we need more funding for domestic violence services and womens refuges, to empower women to physically defend ourselves, and to build stronger communities that look out for each other.

All of us taking action here today is a first step towards building that better world. Kill the Bill!

Uniting our struggles

This action was part of our ongoing opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and follows our demonstration against privatised surveillance outside the BT Headquarters a fortnight ago.

Feminist Fightback are part of the Kill the Bill coalition – a coalition of over 40 activist groups formed in March 2021 to take collective action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Our feminist opposition to the bill, which passed in the House of Lords on 6th July 2021, can be found here, set into a wider context of opposition by anti-racist activists, trade unions, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, sex worker collectives, boat-dwellers, police monitoring projects and more. We must stand together to oppose any increase in police powers and to ensure that our ability to protest and organise politically continues. The recent discussions about women’s safety (including from the police) can’t be detached from our right to protest; neither can it be allowed to ignore those women who have historically been targeted by police and state violence.

photos by @protests_photos