Suffrage: resisting

Suffrage resistance took a variety of forms from tax refusal and boycotting the 1911 census to window breaking and arson. The Home Office recorded more than 1,300 arrests for suffrage activity between 1906 and 1914, with activists drawn from suffrage organisations including the Women’s Freedom League, the Irish Women’s Franchise League and the East London Federation of Suffragettes as well as the Women’s Social and Political Union. From 1909 suffragettes began to resist from within prison by hunger striking in protest against the government’s refusal to recognise them as political prisoners. The government responded by beginning to force feed prisoners, a brutal and life threatening procedure. It became especially dangerous after 1913 when the notorious Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act or Cat and Mouse Act allowed ill hunger-striking suffragettes to be released in order to recover, before being re-arrested when they were well enough to complete their sentence.