Why These Women Invaded The Red Carpet In Protest At Last Night’s BAFTAS

It's an event not known for its politics but, this year, the theme of the BAFTAs was inherent, persistent and pervasive protest...

Sisters Uncut Activists Explained Why They Protested At The BAFTAS 2018

by Vicky Spratt |
Updated on

The BAFTAs are not known for their politics but this year protest was implicit in almost every aspect of the event. From a blanket adherence to the all-black Time’s Up dress code to Edith Bowman’s public declaration that she had, for the first time in her career, raised the issue of equal pay to make sure she was being paid the same as her co-host Dermot O’Leary to present the BBC’s red carpet coverage, the message Time’s Up was reinforced from all angles.

As they did at the Golden Globes, actors also attended the ceremony with activists as their guests and, ahead of the event, a group of 190 British women in the entertainment industry published an open letter which expressed solidarity with women in all industries as well as a commitment to ending sexual harassment and abuse everywhere. More than just paying lip service, the letter called for people to make donations to the Justice and Equality Fund (which was set up as part of Time’s Up). It has been reported that Emma Watson has donated £1 million to the fund.

The BAFTAs protest was not just top down, however. The grassroots feminist direct action group, Sister’s Uncut were also out in force. Drawing on their 2015 invasion of the red carpet invasion at the premiere of Suffragette, members of the group stormed the BAFTAs 2018 red carpet to call ‘Time’s Up’ on Theresa May.

Wearing black T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Time’s Up Theresa’, in the Suffragette colours of green and purple, the activists aimed to draw attention to the forthcoming and much-anticipated Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.

Sisters Uncut say that the bill which is presented by the government as an important landmark piece of legislation intended to support survivors of domestic violence is, actually, in danger of criminalizing the very people it claims to protect.

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BAFTAs Best Dressed

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alicia vikander baftas 2016 red carpet

Alicia Vikander wears Louis Vuitton

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Laura Whitmore

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Saoirse Ronan wears Burberry

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Bel Powley

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Cate Blanchett wears custom Alexander McQueen with earrings and bracelet by Tiffany & Co.

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John Boyega

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Julianne Moore

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Kate Winslet wears Antonio Berardi

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Isla Fisher

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Dakota Johnson wears a Dior dress with jewellery by Repossi

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Lily Donaldson red carpet

Lily Donaldson

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Eddie Redmayne and Hannah Bagshawe

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Emilia Clarke wears earrings and ring by Tiffany & Co.

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Rooney Mara wears Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci

In a statement Sisters Uncut said ‘the Prime Minister has made clear that she intends the Bill, which is still under consultation in parliament, to bring in tougher sentences and ‘deliver more convictions’ for domestic violence.’ Sisters Uncut say that the suggested measures in the bill ‘distract’ from the cuts that have been made to domestic violence provision in recent years (namely the closure of refuges) and ‘skirt the government’s responsibility to support all survivors of domestic violence’.

In the US, say Sisters Uncut, similar policies to those proposed in the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill have led to an increase in the number of survivors being arrested, especially black and minority ethnic and poorer survivors. The group warns that the Bill could lead to the criminalization of survivors as well as perpetrators and cite recent reports about the death of Katrina O’Hara, who was murdered after being wrongly investigated by the police instead of her violent partner. Recent research by the Prison Reform Trust found that survivors reported being repeatedly arrested by the police despite their partner being the primary aggressor.

Speaking to The Debrief, three Sisters Uncut activists explained why they took to the red carpet last night:

Liz, 25

‘I protested last night because as a survivor of domestic violence, Theresa's Domestic Violence Bill promising more convictions is a personal threat to my safety. It's also distracting from what survivors really need - refuges and specialist domestic violence services. I deserve a government that supports and protects me, and until then I will continue using direct action to protest’.

Rosa, 27

‘In solidarity with the other activists on the red carpet, I stormed the red carpet because I believe that it's the government's responsibility to support survivors, which Theresa May's proposed Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill fails to do. Alongside my sisters, I will continue to use direct action until power is given back to survivors by the government funding refuges and specialist domestic violence services’.

Magalí, 21

'I took part in this action because as an immigrant with no recourse to public funds, I know how hard it is to get support when you need it, and I want ALL survivors to have access to life-saving services like refuges.

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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