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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid