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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Feminist boot camp in Paris

In PHOTOS: Feminist boot camp in Paris

Last updated on: September 26, 2012 09:23 IST

Feminist boot camp in Paris

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The infamous Ukrainian feminists known for their topless protests, the Femen, have launched an 'international training camp' in Paris to teach a new generation of women to fight sexism.

The group has set up the training camp at a former theatre in the French capital's Goutte d'Or district.

A leather punching bag is surrounded by Femen slogans like 'Nudity is freedom' and 'I am a woman, not an object'.

"Soldiers will be born here, but they will not be French soldiers," Inna Shevchenko, 22, said, adding: "They will be feminist soldiers, international soldiers".

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Image: Femen activist Inna Shevchenko sits with her computer in an apartment in Kiev
Photographs: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

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"We are talking about peaceful war, peaceful terrorism," Shevchenko said. "We are taking off our clothes so people can see that we have no weapons except our bodies. It's a powerful way to fight in a man's world. We live with men's domination and this is the only way to provoke them, the only way to get attention.

"We don't hide our bodies; we don't hide our faces; we confront our enemies face to face. We look them in the eyes and we have to be well prepared physically for that."

The Femen movement was created in Ukraine in 2008 to protest against sexism, prostitution and the exploitation of women in the former Soviet state.

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Image: A detained activist from women's rights group Femen shouts from a police van
Photographs: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

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Inna, 22, second daughter of an army officer, and a journalism graduate, took off her top and joined the protests, a decision that would cost her a well-paid job as a press officer at Kiev town hall.

In August, she fled Ukraine after a well-publicised stunt in which she wielded a chainsaw semi-naked to chop down a large wooden Orthodox cross in support of the jailed Russian feminists Pussy Riot.

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Image: An activist from women's rights group Femen uses a chainsaw to cut down a Christian cross, erected in memory of victims of political repressions under the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin regime, near the Oktyabrsky Palace in central Kiev
Photographs: Anatolii Stepanov/Reuters
Tags: , Inna , Paris , Russian , Ukraine

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They gained notoriety for demonstrating topless, with rallying cries like 'I am free' and 'naked war' painted on their bodies.

The chainsaw stunt led to Shevchenko being monitored by undercover agents, and she fled to France.

French feminists then suggested that the Femen establish a base in Paris. Before the invitation, Shevchenko said, "we thought of France as a first world and already feminist country that didn't really need us".

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Image: Activists of Ukrainian women's rights group Femen place their faces to complete sketched caricatures at their office in Kiev
Photographs: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

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Training at the new facility will be "moral but also physical," Shevchenko said, adding: "You have to be in good shape, because at protests you may need to run away or attack the police or jump on a building or a car."

The group plans to open another training camp in its home base of Kiev, and a third in Brazil before the 2016 Olympics, according to the report.


Image: Police officers detain a protester in support of women's rights group Femen, during a civic-military parade commemorating the Independence Day of Brazil in Brasilia September 7, 2012. Sign reads, "From woman to woman, emancipate ourselves"
Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

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