South London group joins #MillionWomenRise protest march

Hundreds of women greeted unsuspecting Oxford Street shoppers with cries for an end to violence against women on Saturday.

The Million Women Rise coalition marked its 10-year anniversary with a one-and-a-half mile march through central London, days after International Women’s Day.

Among the coalition were tens of women’s groups, including the International Women’s Peace GroupRape Crisis England and Wales and South London Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivor Centre.

31-year-old Rape Crisis South London Advocate Ellie Blatchley said: “We want Theresa May to hear us and not just pay lip service to this issue.

“We want her to hear us and ratify the Istanbul Convention.

“There are so many things she could do that she is not doing.”

The Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, was signed by the UK on 8 June 2012 but is yet to be ratified.

24-year old Molly Ackhurst, who works for South London Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivor Centre, said: “We march because it is important that noise is made that voices are heard and that it’s made really clear that violence against women is not okay.”

Situated in Croydon, the centre works to support survivors of sexual violence in South London in reporting crimes to the police and navigating the British criminal justice system.

The capacity of these centres to meet the needs of survivors has been greatly reduced after funding cuts stemming for government austerity measures, Ms Blatchley explained.

The march took place as retiring Judge Lindsey Kushner’s controversial courtroom warning, that “disinhibited behaviour” may lead woman to be the targets of predatory men, hit national headlines.

Responding to the comments, Ms Ackhurst said: “they reinforce attitudes around victim blaming that further silence women and that is another reason why march is so important.”

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