Protesters storm red-carpet premiere of UK women's rights film 'Suffragette'

Wed Oct 7, 2015 8:06pm EDT
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By Sebastien Malo

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Protesters stormed the red carpet at the glitzy premiere of the film "Suffragette" on Wednesday that stars Meryl Streep as a leading British women's rights activist a century ago, staging a lie-in and saying the fight for equality was not yet over.

The historical political drama is about the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement in London in 1912 and their campaign of militancy to fight for women to get the right to vote.

The story centers on Maud, played by Carey Mulligan, a working wife and mother, whose life is changed forever when she is secretly recruited to join the growing suffragette movement led by activist Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Streep.

But as the movie's stars, including Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff, walked the red carpet at Leicester Square in central London, up to 100 mainly female protesters were on standby with about a dozen jumping over barricades and laying on the ground chanting slogans.

Security guards tried to remove the protesters who had signs pinned to their clothes reading "dead women don't vote", with some women escorted away as green and purple smoke bombs filled the air. The demonstrators moved on after about 10 minutes.

Shanice McBean, 22, was among the protesters who said the stunt was meant to re-ignite the feminist spirit of the movie by spotlighting violence against women.

"We're here to say to say that it's great that women's history is being shown in the film, but that the struggle is not over," said McBean, from London, who is currently unemployed.

Emma Fischer, 27, a teacher from London, said the protesters organized by a group called Sisters Uncut condemned cuts by Britain's conservative government to the budget for domestic violence services such as refuges for women.   Continued...

Demonstrators let off flares in the crowd during the Gala screening of the film "Suffragette" for the opening night of the British Film Institute (BFI) Film Festival at Leicester Square in London October 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor