There is this very scandalous group of Ukrainian feminists called FEMEN (I blogged about it here) that uses some very strange means to promote feminism. For some reason, women who belong to this organization believe it’s a good idea to run around half naked in support of feminism. I think they are clueless and their activism is counterproductive. However, now is the moment to stand in solidarity with these activists because they have been subjected to really horrible treatment by anti-feminist fanatics in Byelorussia. I’m not seeing any articles on this subject in the feminist blogosphere, which is why I decided to write about it and share what has been happening to feminists in Byelorussia.
Byelorussia is one of the former republics of the Soviet Union. It suffered horribly during World War II. I think it was probably the area of the USSR that sustained the greatest damage during the war. When the Chernobyl catastrophe took place, the wind blew most of the radiation towards Byelorussia. The entire population has been affected by the nuclear tragedy.
As if all this suffering wasn’t enough, this miserable republic has been cursed with a dictator of well-known fascist leanings. Since 1994, Lukashenko, a great admirer of Hitler, has ruled Byelorussia. International observers state that there has never been a single even marginally fair election in the country. Candidates who tried to run against the dictator have been brutalized by the police and arrested. Journalists who tried to publish even mild criticisms of Lukashenko have been found murdered. Or not found at all.
The Ukrainian feminists went to Byelorussia on Monday to protest the mistreatment of the country’s numerous political prisoners. After they conducted their peaceful protest, they left and headed to the bus station to take a bus home. There, they were approached by a group of men (it is obvious from a variety of details that these men worked for the Byelorussian KGB), taken into the woods, stripped naked, and beaten. Then, the attackers cut off their hair and doused them with a sticky bright green substance that is very hard to remove and that leaves long-lasting stains. After that, the women were feathered. They were forced to hold slogans with swastikas. All of this was recorded with a camcorder.
After the Ukrainian feminists made their ordeal public, the leader of the Byelorussian KGB stated that “they react to everything like women” and refused to take the matter seriously.
I have noticed that my posts about the violations of human rights in the FSU are very unpopular. I understand that the reason why people don’t want to read them is not indifference. It is, rather, a sense of impotence. Nobody knows how the situation can be helped. I believe, however, that knowledge and awareness are the best – and the only – ways to help. If people in other countries know what’s going on, if they are aware of the facts, they are already doing a lot.
Sorry for spoiling the pre-Christmas mood, but this is important. I was going to promise only to write about happy things during the Christmas festivities, but there is another huge protest against the Putin regime planned in Moscow for tomorrow and I can’t avoid blogging about that.