Vigil and Lobby against Welfare Reform Bill

Please join Single Mothers’ Self Defence and WinVisible (Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities) at their vigil and lobby of parliament against the Welfare Reform Bill. On Tuesday the Welfare Reform Bill is being debated in the House of Lords. This is a vital opportunity to persuade the Lords to make key amendments which could stop some of the most harmful aspects of the bill.

1-3pm, Tuesday 14th February

Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St. SW1, opposite the Houses of Parliament

Why oppose the Welfare Reform Bill?

Poverty makes us more vulnerable to rape and domestic violence, stopping women, children and other abuse victims from leaving partners as they are financially dependent on them. The introduction of universal credit, which in many cases will mean that benefits are paid to a couple as a whole, the cuts to child benefit and a reduction in the benefits paid to individuals, will make women more open to abuse as partners control our money. Disabled women won’t be entitled to employment support allowance if their partner is employed, making an already vulnerable group of people even more open to intimidation and abuse.

The Global Women’s Strike has set out the implications of the bill for women and children:

Cuts to child benefit – Child Benefit must remain universal – it should not be paid according to income. We all deserve the security of money we can call our own to support our children, including when the father is violent or uncaring.

The benefit cap. Already, as housing benefit doesn’t cover all housing costs, many of us go without food or heating to make sure the rent is paid so we don’t end up on the street. Extortionate rents by greedy landlords greatly inflate the housing benefit bill. Cap the landlords, not us! Families of colour forced to move to white areas have been under siege in their own home from horrendous racist attacks, including against children.

Abolition of the Social Fund - the Fund is a lifeline to women and children fleeing domestic violence, ill and disabled people leaving hospital including those with mental illness, and newly-released prisoners, enabling them to set up a new home. People increasingly rely on this fund in emergencies. The government is shedding responsibility for vulnerable people, passing it to local councils with no legal duty to help and no ring-fenced funds. How many more women and children will fall prey to sexual and other violence from partners, fathers or step-fathers they cannot leave because they are dependent on them for food or shelter?

Cuts to disability and carers’ benefits. Sick and disabled people, and carers, need financial and housing security to survive. Cuts to Employment Support Allowance will mean that disabled people with a partner will receive no ESA at all, making them more dependent and more vulnerable to attack. Fears for the future are making mothers of disabled children sick with worry; this is having a terrible impact on the children. Psychiatrists and other professionals warned about this in May.

Oppose the abolition of Disability Living Allowance which will deprive an estimated 700,000 disabled people of benefit, including who use the money to manage in waged work. The concession allowing people in residential homes to claim the mobility component, does not change this.

If you can’t come to the vigil please write to a Lord or to your MP asking them to oppose the bill.

Protest: Just say no to Dorries’ abstinence education bill!

Friday 20th January, 10.30am-12.30pm, The Houses of Parliament (Old Palace Yard, Abingdon Street, SW1P 3JY) - Map here, nearest tube Westminster. Facebook invite here

On 20 January 2012, Nadine Dorries’ proposed amendment to sex education, Bill 185, which suggests GIRLS be taught abstinence, is due to get a second reading in parliament. Slut Means Speak Up will be speaking at this planned protest against the bill, together with Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project, who were involved in organising SlutWalk last June.

We will be at this protest because we know that abstinence-only sex education will be incredibly harmful to rape survivors. We know that the girls being taught to ‘just say no’ in school will become the women being accused of not saying ‘no’ loudly enough when they were raped. We know that the girls taught that sex must remain an unspoken subject will become the rape survivors who are too ashamed to share their experiences and find healing. We know that the girls being taught that there is no such thing as consensual sex will become the women who are unable to recognise, report and fight against rape.

UPDATE 20/01 - The bill has been withdrawn! Thank you so much to everyone who came to the protest.

Donate to SlutWalk London 2012! We still need over £2,000 for a PA system, permits, stage etc.

A film against rape We are making a self-help film about rape which educates us instead of telling us to be ashamed.

SlutWalk London 2012!

Sheila Farmer's prosecution dropped

Photos: Tom Radenz and Claire Butler

Why SlutWalk London?

"I am walking because I was raped. I am walking because two thirds of people who answered a survey would say I am to blame for my rape. The only person to blame is the man who raped me.I am so angry with the lack of justice, the hundreds and thousands of rapists who walk away. I am angry because the survivors of rape are victimised again and again. If we report it (I did) we are forced to re-live it in horrendous detail several times over. We feel violated again when the CPS decides not to prosecute after all and he simply walks away. We are not victims. We were victims, for a moment in time. Now, we are survivors."

- Emily Jacob