“OUR GOD IS WOMAN, OUR MISSION IS PROTEST, OUR WEAPONS ARE BARE BREASTS!” – FEMEN
Ukraine’s depressed economy and ease of entry into the country have fuelled the rise of sex tourism in recent years. There are approximately twelve thousand prostitutes in Ukraine and in the capital, Kiev, it is estimated that up to sixty percent of the total number of sex workers are university students. Femen, a Kiev-based women’s rights organization, was formed in 2008 in an effort to fight against prostitution and the growing sex tourism industry. Femen now protests on a range of issues: from women’s rights in the Middle East to Internet censorship. The group consists mostly of young, female university students, and much of the media attention surrounding Femen has focused on the fact that its members protest topless. Threats from the Ukrainian Secret Services, multiple arrests, Facebook censorship, and a lack of money, have failed to deter Femen from staging their almost weekly protests. Sitting in Café Cupid, the basement bar that Femen uses as their headquarters, Inna Shevchenko, one of the key members of the group, chatted to us about what it’s like to be a member of Femen and the future of the organisation.