For the September issue of Dazed & Confused (out August 16th) we’ve written a feature on Femen – the Ukrainian women’s rights group which have gained global notoriety for their topless protests. In it we speak to Inna Shevchenko, a 22 year-old activist who informed us that Femen, which consider themselves to be a growing international movement, would stage their next big protest during the London Olympics. Sure enough, two days ago we received a message stating that four of their French activists were planning to demonstrate outside City Hall the following day. A boyfriend to one of the women later explained that the absence of Femen’s Ukrainian members was due to restrictions on their Visas.
They called it an 'Islamic marathon' condemning the IOC for allowing countries which recognised in their laws what Femen described as the 'bloody Islamist regime', to participate in the games. In an interview with the women beforehand, we asked Éloïse, seen here speaking in the film, what the French people made of Femen’s controversial tactics. “People don’t take Femen protests very seriously in Paris, she said. "because they think it’s funky and it’s funny and they don’t realise that it’s very important in Ukraine and that they [the Ukrainian activists] risk their lives doing this.”
Shouting “kill a generation” with ‘Olympic shame’ and ‘No Sharia’ painted on their chests, Femen were met with bemusement here in London, too. Some people questioned what the women hoped to achieve? Perhaps when they saw the blogs, message boards, and international newspapers later that day, they got their answers.
Additional footage Sally Mumby Croft
Read the full Femen feature in the September issue of Dazed & Confused, out mid August.
Follow Fiona Cook on Twitter here @fionawcook