Protesters from the group Sisters Uncut shut down a council meeting in Portsmouth, where £180,000 cuts to domestic violence services were due to be debated.

The protesters chanted “you cut – we bleed” and “two women a week – murdered” as they unfurled a banner reading “CUTTING DV SERVICES KILLS WOMEN” from a public gallery during the meeting on 8 December. According to the Office of National Statistics, two women a week die as a result of domestic violence in the UK.

Conservative councillors, who retained control over Portsmouth Council in the 2015 election, are among those seen leaving the meeting as the activists continued to chant and beat on a drum. Other councillors and members of the public remained to listen and applaud, before the room was eventually cleared.

Anita Baker, a Sisters Uncut member and domestic violence support worker, said: “The response of the Tory members, to get up and turn their backs on us, speaks volumes about how little they feel the impact of these cuts.”

The protest was organised alongside Portsmouth-based users of domestic violence services, domestic violence workers and anti-cuts activists, and occurred in tandem with an earlier demonstration outside the meeting.

“We’ve been in touch with women from all over the country, and we can mobilise a real popular assault against these cuts,” Ms Baker said. “We’re going make our presence known in 2016.”

The cuts were passed when the meeting was reconvened later that evening. Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Dowling, who was among those who remained to applaud the actions of Sisters Uncut. He added: “Around 800 fewer people will now be receiving domestic violence support. This is totally unacceptable.”

Conservative Council Leader Donna Jones explained that the workers will be paid for a further 12 months out of a separate budget, after which they will face losing their jobs if they cannot find funding from central government or the local police. 

"Being taken out of our direct budget strengthens their ask when they go up to Whitehall," she said. "I’ve been in danger of redundancy myself, when I was working for a bank, and I didn’t react the way they did. If that kind of thing happens, you have to brush it off and get on with it."

The protest was organised alongside Portsmouth-based users of domestic violence services, domestic violence workers and anti-cuts activists, and occurred in tandem with an earlier demonstration outside the meeting.

"We’ve been in touch with women from all over the country, and we can mobilise a real popular assault against these cuts," Ms Baker said. "We’re going make our presence known in 2016."

In other protests this year, Sisters Uncut staged a “die-in” on the red carpet at the premier of the Suffragette movie and dyed Trafalgar Square fountain the colour of blood. 

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