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Tortured, force-fed and sexually abused the women who put their lives on the line for the right to vote; PAIN ENDURED FOR SUFFRAGETTES' VICTORY; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: LAURA CONNOR

SHE became one of the most famous faces of the suffragette movement and a statue of Alice Hawkins was unveiled yesterday in recognition of her incredible life.

A shoe machinist, Alice was jailed five times and was one of many women who was force-fed as she attempted to change the world for millions of women.

And she did. Tomorrow marks 100 years from women getting the vote and her statue in Leicester's Market Square is testament to all the campaigners who changed lives for generations to come.

Kate Barratt, her great-great-granddaughter, says: "Alice gives me a lot to live up to. I have my freedom and my vote, while Alice had to fight for that."

Alice was a member of the Women's Social and Political Union, known as the suffragettes.

While their battle was publicly fatal for some, such as Emily Wilding Davison who was killed by King George V's horse Anmer at the 1913 Epsom Derby, the treatment of women held in jail caused lesser-known horror.

When members were first arrested in 1904, they were often classed as political prisoners. But they were later refused this status and went on hunger strike.

The first to do so was Marion Dunlop in 1909, who was released after only 91 hours. This led leaders Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst to believe refusing food was a non-violent way of protest.

But the reality of force-feeding the activists was horrific, explains Dr Maureen Wright, history and politics lecturer at Chichester University.

"Few women regained full health after what would become known as 'state sanctioned torture'," she says.

Suffragette Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton's privileged background meant authorities refused to force-feed her.

In solidarity with her fellow suffragettes, she chose an alias, cut her hair and wore working clothes.

After being arrested in Liverpool in 1910 and refusing food and drink, she was forcibly fed eight times.

I felt as killed, the She said: "I felt as though I were being killed; absolute suffocation is the feeling. "You can't breathe yet you choke. Every second seems an hour and you think they will never finish pushing it down. Then the food is poured, and again you choke, and your whole body resists."

Her treatment caused a heart attack and stroke soon after and she died in 1923. While in jail she carved a V - the Votes for Women symbol - on her breast with a hairpin.

Brave actress Actress Kitty Marion was force-fed 232 times, begging a doctor to give her poison to end her pain. She wrote: "One doctor asked me to drink milk. I refused and was overpowered by several wardresses, forced into an armchair, the doctor holding my head back.

"I struggled and screamed. Suddenly I felt something penetrate my nostril which seemed to cause my head to burst and my eyes to bulge.

Choking and retching the tube was forced down and the food poured in, most of which was vomited back.

"There are no words to describe the horrible revolting sensations. I called the doctors 'dirty, cringing doormats to the government' to lend themselves to such outrageous treatment." But the women were also subjected to physical and sexual trauma including on November 10, 1910, which became known as Black Friday when 300 suffragettes tried to reach Parliament.

Kitty Marion They were treated with "exceptional brutality by police", women's and gender historian Professor June Purvis says.

"Many assaults were sexual in nature as skirts were lifted, knees thrust between legs and breasts pinched."

Emmeline khurst's sister Mary Clarke died of ries inflicted during Black Friday, her force-feeding in prison, calling "the first woman martyr who has e to death for this cause".

Cat and Mouse Act came effect, which prolonged the ordeal orce-feeding.

Man Pank inju and her gone In into of fo Pr feed degr a pr strik nur that cont rof Purvis, who describes forceding as "brutal, life-threatening and rading", explains: "The Act allowed risoner weakened through hunger king to be released in order to be sed back to good health so tshe would be fit enough to tinue her sentence."

wo days into her hunger strike in 3, 21-year-old Lilian Lenton had a m tube stuffed down her throat as e male prison staff towered over her. he tube missed her stomach and el was poured into her airway. She ll with pleurisy and pneumonia, and released from Holloway Prison - remarkably survived.

In head when prison in Edinburgh, Ethel Moord developed double pneumonia en a "foreign substance" entered her lung after her eighth feeding. Even if the women escaped long-term health issues, they experienced bruising, damage to teeth, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea.

And force-feeding wasn't the only violent method used in prison. Evelyn Manesta was put in a headlock, but police later doctored a picture, replacing an officer's grip with a scarf.

The authorities also denied force-feeding Lilian, with Home Secretary Reginald McKenna saying her pneumonia was caused by hunger striking.

Many also suffered sexual abuse. Fanny Parker was imprisoned in Perth in July 1914. She said officers force-fed her through her rectum, writing it "was done in a cruel way, causing great pain". An examination suggested the tube had also been forced into her vagina.

Findmypast has recovered documents showing how Edith Lanchester, who was incarcerated in an asylum for planning to marry an Irish labourer, endured four days of abuse. Prof Purvis says: "Although the word 'rape' was not used, the instrumental invasion of the body, accompanied by overpowering physical force, suffering and humiliation, was akin to it. That rubber tubes were not always new and might be dirty inside added to the feelings of violation."

However, the years of torture ended in victory as the First World War ended. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed, thanks also to suffragists, who believed in law-abiding campaigning led by Millicent Fawcett.

But only around two in five women were allowed to vote, as they had to be aged over 30 and occupy a house - or be married to someone who did. It would take another 10 years for women to be allowed to vote in the same way as men.

"All women, whether suffragist or suffragette, were radical," Dr Wright says. "All were pioneers. All were dedicated to making a fairer, just society. Every woman should ask if she, faced with the choice, would do the same."

laura.connor@mirror.co.uk VOICE OF THE MIRROR: PAGE 12

I have my freedom, while Alice had to fight for that KATE BARRATT alice hawkins' descendant I felt as though I were being killed, absolute suffocation is the feeling. Your body resists. LADY CONSTANCE BULWER-LYTTON on being force-fed

CAPTION(S):

Woman in 1912 suffers in jail TUBE FEED

PIONEER Alice, left, and her statue in Leicester

Brave actress Kitty Marion FORCE-FED

Buckingham Palace protest VOTE FURY

Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton IMPRISONED

An activist around 1910 ARM LOCK
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2018
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