You may or may not be aware that a new revolution is heating up in eastern Ukraine, where women’s rights group Femen has been staging protests against the country’s widespread sex tourism and prostitution, inspiring fear in Ukrainian authorities. The group was profiled by Der Spiegel this week, and the profile’s been making the rounds on the Internet. The German weekly reports:
Some travel agencies offer “Romantic Tours” of eastern Ukraine. In Kiev, pimps will call the hotel rooms of foreign guests and offer to sell them “a good time with a girl.” According to a survey, 70 percent of students in the capital have been approached by a foreigner offering them money for sex. It’s a country that even Google automatically associates with “dating agencies” and “women.”
“We understand that the root causes for many of the problems in Ukraine run very deep,” says Victor, one of Femen’s few male members. “That’s why we take the concept of prostitution one step further: The entire Ukraine is a brothel.”
Led by 26 year-old Anna Hutsol, the grassroots organization has been meeting in a dimly-lit cellar bar in the center of Kiev, earning the ire of authorities, and getting banned on Facebook for uploading “pornography.” It might sound like fun, but it’s pretty serious, too: “Ukrainian security forces have become increasingly interested in Femen,” Spiegel reports. “Men from the Ukrainian intelligence service SBU forced their way into Anna’s apartment at night. They held ‘preventative talks’ and threatened to ‘break the arms and legs’ of the Femen chief.”
Also, they’re topless.
“Yes,” sighs Hutsol. “We’re different from classic feminists. In order to gain a voice, they had to become like men. But we want a real women’s revolution. Our naked protests are part of the fight for women’s liberation. We have the right to use our bodies as weapons. I think men like women’s breasts.”
The popularity of Spiegel’s accompanying slideshow seems to justify their methods.
Kiev’s Topless Protestors [Spiegel]