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The lady doth protest too much …


FEMEN is globalized protest ‘corporation’. For the time being, their protests have content – and style. Wonder who is ‘behind’ FEMEN?

Femen activists preparing for a demonstration |  Image courtesy: rt.com; source: Reuters / Osman Orsal  |  Click for image.

Femen activists preparing for a demonstration | Image courtesy: rt.com; source: Reuters / Osman Orsal | Click for image.

The lady doth protest too much.

Shakespeare said that – and what many governments think about FEMEN.

FEMEN women activists, known for their topless style of protests, have been arrested in more countries, than anyone – in recent history at least. Milan to Istanbul, Davos to Moscow, Kiev to Switzerland, they have protested everywhere.

My favorite FEMEN protest was at Davos. Where über-rich talk as though the Rest of Us don’t exist – or matter.

The other level at which FEMEN protests are working, is against male-standards of how women should deal with their bodies. Clothing and coverings.

Inna Shevchenko, recently, with other

girls – all topless – barged into a polling station, where Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had voted. These young women were questioning the legitimacy of a vote they say is skewed to help the former KGB spy return as Russia’s president. Police officers dragged them out of the room by their hair. This was just another day at work for the activists of provocative Ukranian feminist group, FEMEN.

It was India’s turn to taste their venom, when topless activists sporting nose rings, maang teekas and mehendi climbed the balcony of the Indian ambassador’s residence in Kiev, Ukraine, in January. They knocked down the tricolour and carried banners that read, ‘Ukranians are not prostitutes’. They were reacting to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs directive to monitor the visa applications of Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakh women aged 15 to 40 to weed out sex workers. Earlier this month, a furious Indian embassy began criminal proceedings against the demonstrators, who now face up to five years in prison, and the possibility of a lock-down of their organisation.

“The reaction is strange,” says 21-year-old Inna Shevchenko, in a telephonic chat from Kiev. Her voice is sombre. That’s strange for someone with enough grit to go head-to-head with the KGB and Minsk police after a demonstration against the authoritative Belarusian president. The police reportedly stripped Shevchenko and two colleagues, doused them in petrol and threatened to burn them, before abandoning the girls in a forest near the village of Beka.

Excerpts from an interview: What is your reaction to India pressing criminal charges against FEMEN demonstrators? The Indian reaction is strange. We were protesting against what they said – that all women of the Soviet Union are prostitutes. And we did nothing wrong with the Indian flag. Their reaction indicates that they are wary of women activists and their opinion. It’s a comment on the mindset of the people working at the embassy. FEMEN’s role is to protect any woman, even if she’s an Indian. (via Off with her tee! – Times Of India; embedded links supplied).

Apparently, the Indian Government’s decision to ‘screen’ Ukrainian visitors to India, before the UP election rankled.

With some Ukranians at least.


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