Happy Birthday, Jana Zhdanova!!

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Jana 2Today is the birthday of Jana Zhdanova, a brave Ukrainian feminist and member of Femen. You may have noticed a recent blog here posted by my clever friend and colleague Sally about the Femen protest of former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi during his audacious bid for re-election after being indicted and tainted by scandal. The topless female protesters were arrested by the Italian police, shamefully man-handled, and held without charge pending the outcome of the election. They have only recently been released from police custody in Milan. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the group Femen, it was founded in the Ukraine in 2008 by Anna Hutsol, who became aware of the sad stories of Ukrainian women who were sent abroad, victimized by the sexual tourism trade rampant in the Ukraine. Femen 1After failing to attract significant attention to their cause when they protested in their underwear, Oksana Shachko bared her breasts at a protest in Kiev in August 2009. From then on members began going topless and painting their bodies with slogans to attract the press to their movement. It worked. Made up mostly of Ukrainian college-age women and students in their early twenties, the original members of Femen began attracting worldwide attention to their growing list of causes and the group gained more members and more influence. The members of Femen have also been arrested and jailed on numerous occasions for their topless political activities. Jana Zhdanova whose birthday we are celebrating today has spent the most time behind bars of any of the group’s members. On 26 July 2012, a topless Jana Zhdanova, attacked Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, while he was visiting the Ukraine. Zhdanova had the words “Kill Kirill” painted on her back and screamed “Get Out!” to the ‘Patriarch of Moscow and all the Rus’. She was arrested and sentenced to prison for fifteen days for her actions.

Femen 2The stated goals of the organization are “to shake women in Ukraine, making them socially active; [and] to organize in 2017 a women’s revolution.” However, the group’s main objective is the opposition to patriarchal society and religion everywhere and the demeaning position women find themselves under men’s domination worldwide. The movement spread to France when Inna Shevchenko left the Ukraine and went to Paris to set up FEMEN France, a training center for topless activists. The international training center opened on 18 September 2012. Since then support for the movement has spread. The organization said it was setting up international branches in Warsaw, Zurich, Rome, Tel Aviv, and Rio de Janeiro. Early in 2013 FEMEN claimed to have members in Brazil, Germany, the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria, and Tunisia. Jana 3In a 2010 interview Anna Hutsol said that in addition to 20 core organizers there are 300 activists in Kiev, as well as a social network based on ‘vkontakte’ of about 20,000 persons. Since early 2011 various sources state that in an interview Anna Hutsol claimed that the movement has 150 thousand supporters worldwide. In October 2012 the organization claimed it had about 40 topless activists in Ukraine, and another 100 who had joined their protests abroad. Though opposed by many who are offended by their manner of protest, the leaders of Femen respond: “This is the only way to be heard in this country. If we staged simple protests with banners, then our claims would not have been noticed”. The organization plans to become the biggest and the most influential feminist movement in Europe.

So Happy Birthday to Jana today and may her sisters in Femen continue to change the world one topless protest at a time!

(c) February 28, 2013 – Bethany Ariel Frasier

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Happy Birthday, Jana Zhdanova!!, 5.3 out of 6 based on 7 ratings

One thought on “Happy Birthday, Jana Zhdanova!!

  1. Thank you sweetie! So nice of you! Indeed she is such a brave women – we need more of them….

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