Topless women use bodies as weapons in fight against Putins Ukraine invasion

A feminist activist group is showing solidarity with people in Ukraine through an unusual means of protest – by taking their tops off in public.

Outside the Eiffel Tower last weekend (March 6), 50 of the group’s members lit yellow and blue flares and painted their bare chests in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Bearing declarations of “Putin is a war criminal” and “Stop Putin’s War”, the activists responded to the crisis in Ukraine in their own way.

The action was carried out by radical protest group Femen, a female-led movement which was founded in the very country currently under siege from Russian forces.

The organisation has established factions worldwide, all making their own statements about feminist campaigns, and following the mantra “our weapon(s) are our bare breasts!”

Speaking exclusively to Daily Star, one of the group’s members in Paris, Juella, explained what is compelling “normal” women to take to the streets in a naked protest.

“It’s a way to have good visibility,” she said. “In the beginning we were not topless, and it was not working that much.”

Now though, the group’s “sextremism” tactics are capturing the public’s attention. In February, a protest against Valentine’s Day saw scantily-clad women marching through Madrid.

Currently, the movement is focusing its efforts on the Kremlin and Vladmir Putin. The women might not be heading to Kyiv and taking up arms, but Juella described how they are using their bodies as weapons.

“It is really the feminine way of doing it, we are considering that our weapons are our bodies,” she continued.

“We are a pacifist group, so there is something that is still aggressive and we should all ask why it is still so aggressive to be topless when you’re a woman.”

To that end, the movement’s followers aren’t guerilla soldiers, but people with busy 9-5 lives.

“It is really normal people. We have some women with children, some older women, some who are working, some who are working in media,” Juella added.

“Some of us, which is the majority, are really not used to this, to act and to think like that.

“It’s really normal, [our] people are normal women… I have a totally normal job.

“There is a strong sorority between activists, because sometimes it is really hard, we go to custody, we are arrested.”

As well as possibly facing criminal sanctions, a quick scan of the comments under videos and images shared by Femen’s global semi-nude protests also shows that the group’s members can be subject to heavy criticism and trolling.

Juella admitted that for the women who first start out in these protests, this can be intimidating, but stressed that she didn’t let it get to her.

“Finally we are really used to it as activists so it is not so much a problem. We are fighting against it so we are not surprised,” she said.

“It is about sexualisation of women’s bodies so it is exactly in the way we are understanding it so that’s why we are doing these actions topless.

“We don’t answer to this, because if we do it will take a lot of time. But it makes people react, and that is the final goal; to make people react.”

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