Speech at London SlutWalk rally in Trafalgar Square
Sat 11 June 2011
Claire Glasman, WinVisible
“I want to speak about the cuts we face — because they are violence, and because they make us vulnerable to violence. The poorer we are, the more we are expected to be at the disposal of violent men, and the less we can escape.
As disabled people, as children, we are vulnerable to violence from people we know, in the family and in institutions. We are not supposed to have a sex life, but we are often sexually exploited by the men around us. Did we provoke it? Did we dress like sluts?
We’ve all heard about children and older women being raped or starved to death by care workers. They thought they would get away with it because we’re supposed to die, and because the authorities would believe them not us. And — because they are paid NOT to care, but to make profits for the care home owners. Castlebeck, which runs the private hospital where Simone aged 18 and other people with learning disabilities were tortured, charges £3,500 per person per week. What did she do wrong, to be locked up?
As women with disabilities, as single mothers, we have fought to have an independent income – so that we are not at the mercy of partners and family for our survival.
That is being taken away from us. We are being driven back into dependence by the cuts in benefits, housing and services.
Single mothers and other carers used to get Income Support because caring is vital work. Not any more. What is to happen to the children and the adults who need care? Who will be there for us when our carers are out looking for a job that doesn’t pay enough to support everyone, or doesn’t exist?
Even women fleeing domestic violence are losing their benefits. Only three months for mother and children to recover from trauma and get housing. Then out onto the job market – sink or swim. Many will sink — never leave their violent partners or quickly go back. More will be killed. Who is to blame? The government who deprived us of the money to escape. And the police who were too late to save us from being murdered!
Women with terminal cancer, mental distress, survivors of genocide and war, are being denied disability benefits by Atos, the private company carrying out assessments. Some have committed suicide. Who is to blame? Atos and their friends in government.
Without benefits and a roof over our head, we’ll be back to begging, shoplifting and prison, mental breakdown, being sectioned in hospital, where women still don’t have women-only wards because the staff are men, even where the patients are all women.
Cameron has attacked multi-culturalism. And now he is putting it into practice by cutting Housing Benefit. He wants to drive people of colour and other ‘undesirables’ out of city centres and have rich, white-only areas.
But we won’t go! The student movement, including wheelchair users roughed up by the police “for our own protection” [reference to Jody McIntyre http://www.channel4.com/news/police-handling-of-wheelchair-using-protestor-lawful] made a way for all of us. Whoever we are, wherever we come from, we’re determined to stay put and to live our lives how we want!”
Photos at DPAC flickr