16:26 28 April 2016
More than two hundred people lit flares and released balloons outside Holloway Prison in protest against violence towards women in government institutions.
Feminist group Sisters Uncut held last week’s demonstration in response to the death of an inmate earlier this year, and to show solidarity with black and working class women.
“We are here today because Sarah Reed died in January and her story really resonated with what we do,” said the group’s Jean Snow, adding black and working class women “have suffered from the cuts more than any other group”.
Sarah Reed, a victim of police brutality, had been transferred from a secure mental health unit to prison last October. After she was found dead in her cell, campaigners said she should not have been moved.
The protesters, who had promised to be “rowdy” in flyers ahead of Wednesday’s event, released 77 balloons to reflect the number of women who have died in UK prisons in the last 10 years.
Speakers pointed out 46 per cent of female inmates had been victims of domestic abuse.
Tia Wright said: “We cannot separate the fight against domestic violence from state violence. Prisons don’t work. Austerity doesn’t work.”
Sisters Uncut wants the prison system replaced with welfare projects. Community organiser Fatima Chohan said: “Women of colour will only be safe outside of state structures and systems that appear to be in place to protect or serve us.”