News / Europe

Femen's Topless Protest Tactics Hit Paris

Femen's Topless Protest Tactics Hit Parisi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Lisa Bryant
October 05, 2012 7:25 PM
The Ukrainian feminist movement Femen, best known for its topless protests, is opening its first international training camp in Paris. New recruits are expected to start classes this month - learning how to apply warpaint…jump, run and fight against exploitation. Lisa Bryant visited Femen's new headquarters, and has this report from the French capital.
Lisa Bryant
The Ukrainian feminist movement Femen, best known for its topless protests, is opening its first international training camp in Paris. New recruits are expected to start classes this month - learning how to apply warpaint and jump, run and fight against exploitation.

It is downtime for a group of young feminists, veterans of in-your-face manifestos. Sunlight slants into the first-story loft where they prepare signs for future battles. Signs with slogans like "Muslim Women: Let's Get Naked!"

Inna Shevchenko, 22, is painting slogans on a black punching bag. She's a long way from her native Ukraine. But in Paris and Kiev, she says, women share a common cause.

"We are fighting against the same thing, for the same reason; we are fighting against patriarchy, all manifestations of it - church, religion, sex industry and dictatorship," she said.

Shevchenko is in Paris to open the first international office of Femen - the Ukrainian feminist group whose topless protests capture headlines and rile the establishment.

Actually, make that a boot camp to train new battalions of Femen soldiers. And yes, that means physical workouts.

"We run, because we need to run straight to our enemy," Shevchenko said.  "We jump because we protest in really difficult locations, on the top of cars or buildings."

Shevchenko knows how to cut crosses. That's why she fled Ukraine last August, after demonstrating in support of jailed Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot.  

Shevchenko joined the feminist movement as a university student in Kiev. The protests started off modestly, big crowds of women wearing pink. Then they became more daring, staging their first topless event in 2009. Shevchenko was fired from her job as a city hall press officer.

Femen protesters have targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko and church leaders.

Last year, they exported their fight to France. Dressed in skimpy maids' outfits they shouted "shame on you!" in front of the elegant Paris home of disgraced former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. They have also stripped off their T-shirts at Trocadero Square to protest Islamic Sharia law and the treatment of Muslim women.

French activist Loubna Meliane joined Femen a few months ago.  The daughter of Moroccan immigrants, Meliane says it's important to support women in Arab countries who are in revolt and demanding their liberty. Femen protests may seem shocking, she says, but they help shed light on sometimes violent realities.

The northern Paris neighborhood where Femen is located is no stranger to the exotic. Called Goutte d'Or, it is home to first-generation Africans and Arabs, working-class French, and drug dealers.

Struggling theater owner Herve Breuil gave Femen activists free space to open their boot camp. Breuil welcomes the new residents, who staged their first topless demonstration here last month.

Breuil says local reaction to the protest was fantastic. African women in traditional boubous shouted 'bravo!' Although the event left others puzzled.

Femen also plans to open training camps in Brazil and Ukraine, but Shevchenko says it makes sense to open the first one in Paris.

Shevchenko says now is the time for feminists to be provocative. To irritate what she believes is still a male-dominated world. In Goutte d'Or, at least, the war has begun.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid