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I t's not every day that a women's rights group from eastern Europe makes it into the Sun. But it's no surprise that the redtop made an exception for Femen last year. Ukraine nudes twentysomething Ukrainian campaigners regularly go topless with flowers in their hair, have worn bikinis made from surgical masks, and even mud-wrestled to draw attention to their cause, since they launched in — causing outrage among feminists and traditionalists alike. Yet today Femen's almost weekly protests are so successful it is planning to expand into Europe. Founded by Anna Hutsol, Femen began as a campaign against the explosion of prostitution and sex tourism in Ukraine ukraine nudes by the collapse of the Soviet Union inand intensified by the arrival of budget airlines and a depressed economy.
As its popularity grew, Femen took on issues as diverse as vote-rigging and the stoning sentence meted out to Iranian Sakineh Ashtiani. The next protest, on 26 April, is timed to coincide with the anniversary of Chernobyl when Russian politicians will be visiting Ukraine. Inna Shevchenko, 20, a spokeswoman for the group, admits no one was listening before they started stripping off. We don't have people to promote or help us, or big money. Everywhere — from TV channels to magazines — you see naked girls selling something.
We are trying to say: 'You should not show your body like that; you should use it to protest and fight. With a pool of 40 topless activists, local members and an estimated 30, online supporters, there are now Femen groups in five Ukrainian cities, with plans to set up one in Poland in time for the European football championship next year. The group's tactics have certainly had an impact, says Ukrainian gender studies expert Tetyana Bureychak.
One of the first replies was Femen. Yet many feminists point out that the group's tactics reinforce the idea that women are sex objects whose only value lies in their appearance — a serious issue in a country where the prime minister, Mykola Azarov, felt he could defend his all-male cabinet by saying "conducting reforms is not women's business". So, it's not surprising that most Ukrainian women are unimpressed by Femen, says Bureychak. She is one of several full-time activists the group supports through donations and the sale of its merchandise — including pictures painted with their breasts.
Like many of the group's members — whose average age is 22 — she is a student in a country where one in eight sex workers is said to be a university student or schoolgirl. Before we protested no one talked about prostitution and sex tourism in Ukraine," she says. Shevchenko blames the economic downturn for leaving women few alternative ways to earn money, and wants the government to take action.
Prostitution in Ukraine is illegal, but in the centre of Kiev there are so many brothels, and the police know about them and do nothing. Maria Mayerchyk, from Lviv University, stresses that Femen is a "positive, radical and ukraine nudes phenomenon that is able to raise social issues". And Bureychak points out that Femen is operating in the aftermath of a feminist backlash — because gender equality is seen as a socialist preoccupation and too closely linked with the ideals of the Socialist era.
As Shevchenko says: "We didn't want to be traditional feminists. Women's organisations and groups here only write papers and nothing more. We need activists who will scream and leave their clothes in the street. The nude radicals: feminism Ukrainian style.
A Ukrainian women's rights group uses topless protest and mud-wrestling to campaign against the sex industry. But does it work?
Femen activisits at a protest in Kiev in Homa Khaleeli. Topics Women Ukraine Feminism Europe features. Reuse this content.Ukraine nudes
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