Posts Tagged ‘FEMEN’

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In Supporting Pussy Riot – What The F**k FEMEN?

August 17, 2012

OK – A Russian court sentenced Pussy Riot to 2 years in jail yesterday for their little stunt in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral.  To the very liberal thinkers, maybe that is absolutely fine.  For the broadminded, maybe somewhat obnoxious but nevertheless freedom of speech and expression is fundamental, albeit somewhat distasteful in the chosen location.  For the Russian Orthodox faithful who may have no interest whatsoever in the politics that came to follow the incident, the act was indeed an outrage and sacrilege.

We should also remember that despite the torrents of western press condemnation over the repression of freedom of expression this sentence will be interpreted as, not to mention the political condemnation of disproportionate sentencing that this will inevitably be called,  that the UK sentenced Charlie Gilmore, son of a very famous Pink Floyd father, to 18 months in a UK jail for swinging on a Union Jack hung on a cenotaph in 2010 – without any such condemnation and very little defence espoused  by the media over freedom of expression.

In short, Russian musicians can desecrate their cathedrals and when sentenced to 2 years in jail it is an outrage demanding an international response – but the son of a rock star swinging on the national flag on a monument to the national dead getting 18 months in jail is absolutely fine and a matter for the UK justice system requiring no comment.  Hmmmm!

Anyway, that has nothing to do with Ukraine thus far until the antics of FEMEN are highlighted in support of Pussy Riot and are taken into consideration.

Yes indeed!  The FEMEN support for Pussy Riot involves getting their tits out whilst chainsawing down a massive public Christian monument in Ukraine.

Now if young Charlie Gilmore can get 18 months in a UK jail for dangling from a Union Jack on a war memorial, Pussy Riot get 24 months for what many Russian believers will consider desecration of a major religious site, (regardless of the politics), what pray tell (no pun intended) should Ukraine now do with the FEMEN activists who feel it necessary to wave their tits in a camera whilst permanently hacking down a public Christian monument?  One has to suspect more than the 15 days they usually get for their antics.

Without doubt they would be jailed in the UK for the criminal damage alone (not to mention the nudity and undoubtedly obscure religious offences that will still be sat on the statute books somewhere that could be invoked ) as they have done far more than Charlie Gilmore did to earn his 18 month stretch!

Indeed, given the permanent damage they have caused, they have exceeded the Pussy Riot girls for many one has to suspect.  One wonders whether Pussy Riot would even appreciate such support via the FEMEN tactics displayed in the above video.

So FEMEN, to use a well known abbreviation, WTF?

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Proposed change in abortion law – Ukraine

April 12, 2012

One of the most notable achievements of European society (for better or for worse depending upon your point of view) has been the separation of church from State during the evolution of the continent, and the resulting secular State.

For most European citizens, the Church is the Church and the State is the State  and never the twain shall meet again given the consequences historically.  No longer can the Church burn the heretics and non-believers who make up a sizable number of voters which no political party could afford to lose.

The Church remains, however, a significant social actor within most nations and is recognised and engaged with by the majority of States, be the governing party or leadership agnostic, atheist or of a different belief.  It can be, and is, a significant NGO both arguing for or against specific political policy.

Generally the secular model works fairly well and is particularly noticeable during electioneering where a candidates faith  (or lack or faith) is not a subject that features in any campaigning.  Something one suspects Mr Romney would appreciate but it unlikely to get across the Atlantic very soon.

However the Church (of whatever brand) like all organisations has its positions, interests and needs which most States will listen too and accommodate where it fits with the governing party’s own position, interests and needs.  State and Church therefore rub along together as best as they can whilst attempting to morally or politically lead the same flock.

Problems occur when the Church lobbies to create laws or to change laws which meet their position, but that large enough sections of a far less conservative society would strongly oppose to make the issue politically difficult for the State.

Ukraine currently allows abortion up until the 12th week of pregnancy and in extreme (one assumes medical emergency cases) the 22nd week of pregnancy.  That is the law.

The Orthodox Church however has been lobbying hard and has managed to get some lawmakers to submit a change to this law on abortion, proposing the practice be banned in Ukraine other than for medical emergency reasons.  It will soon come before the RADA for voting.

Now I am not interested in getting into the pro-life verses woman’s rights issues of the argument.  Everyone has their opinion  to which they are entitled.  I intend to look at this from the difficult position of the State, the current leadership of which face an election in October 2012 and are now faced with a very difficult vote (should the issue be forced to a vote in the RADA).

The current government, when it came into power, vowed to increase the population of Ukraine having recognised the national shrinking demographic.  (A continental issue not just one for Ukraine it should be noted.)  Thus banning abortions unless medically necessary would be one way to possibly achieve a jump in birth rates and some form of demographic recovery.  Vow kept.

However, the number of abortions in Ukraine has been significantly and consistently falling for the past 10 years.  In 2000 there were 434223 abortions performed in Ukraine.  In 2010 there were 176774.  With such  a steep  downward trend in society, is there any reason for State interference when it is a trend both Church and State (for different reasons) would approve of?  Whilst the trend continues, is this not a prima facie case for a State to leave well alone?

If acquiesce to the Church would get it on board in the run up to an election where the current government will struggle to retain such a sizable majority, if it hangs on to power at all (which it probably will), the Church, should it get such a legislative victory would undoubtedly sing the current governments praises and thus influence a reasonable amount of voters in the governments favour (either overtly or covertly).

At the same time, despite the fantasies propagated by marriage agencies about the “traditional values” of Ukrainian women, Ukrainian women are very emancipated and have been for a very long time.  Who if not the women, rebuilt the USSR after WWII and 30 million Soviets died, the majority being men?  The myth they sit at home and cook and pop out children on demand for the male head of the household is exactly that – a myth.

Therefore changing the law and banning abortion in all cases other than medical emergency (and any other specifically stated circumstance) could very well alienate a huge number of female voters which is a decidedly bad idea with an election looming.

There are then the casual effects to society to consider should this Church sponsored bill change the law.  Many Ukrainian women would simply travel to have the abortion done and those who could not may well resort to back-street abortions with horrendous consequences.

Those that had children may very well give them up to orphanages which are already woefully underfunded.

If they kept the children the State has such a poorly funded social welfare system that they could not afford to stay home and neither could they work, removing any tax they did pay from the system and increasing the social payment burden in the process.  That could increase numbers of child neglect cases and that, ultimately, could put increasing strains on the orphanages.

As the State cannot even make people pay their due taxes, finding and getting absent fathers to pay any form of maintenance is simply a non-starter.  Those women and children in that situation now, rarely see any money from the absent father and the State does nothing to enforce payment or track the father down.  If they could they would have far better tax revenues.

Is a generation of poor single parents and child poverty what the government sees as a sound policy when heading towards European norms?  Unlikely.

Talking of European norms, in banning abortion (other than in statutorily stated circumstance such as medical emergency) which other EU nations would it have for company?  Would the EU see such a move as a further back-sliding in human rights and womens rights in particular?

All in all a very difficult situation for policy makers to be in.

Protests about this proposed legal change have already started.  FEMEN (as you would expect) have already been arrested for climbing the bell tower of St Sophia’s in central Kyiv, ringing the bell and going topless (as is their signature protest action).  One has to suspect that should this legal change be seen to even remotely gain any traction the protests will become much larger.

Not a particularly nice thought for a sitting government with a major European tournament being hosted in 2 months time.  Massed rallies by the collective European feminati sisterhood would be a major embarrassment.

Much, one suspects, will come down to how much the current government needs to give something to the Church in the run up to the election to influence the masses favourably, or alternatively, how much can be gained by the current government to publicly and noisily putting the Church in its secular place in order to win over a large part of the female voter base by standing up for their existing rights under the current law.

One to watch in the coming months.

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Statistical recording and national image‏

July 23, 2011

Following on rather nicely from yesterday’s post about benchmarks and getting behind the numbers and headlines, here is a very good example of how, depending upon the way it is recorded, a specific incident can have add or detract from a national image simply by the way it is recorded by the “international watchdogs”.

For those unfamiliar with a group called FEMEN, they are a group of ladies who have taken to making a bare breast of things when it comes to political protest. They started stripping off in public years ago to highlight sexual exploitation and Ukraine becoming a sex tourist hot-spot, but have since moved on to “getting them out” over seemingly almost any issue they can think of.

Unfortunately that rather detracts from their original protest message which has not been addressed given Ukraine still remains a hub for middle-aged western men looking the the kind of good looking women that would have no interest in them at home. (Needless to say the women here are also rarely interested either).

FEMEN however, have moved on, thus causing pause for thought as the whether they simply like “getting them out” and the attention it brings them as an organisation over and above any particular cause they protest over. Quite simply they do not seem to stick to a cause long enough to have any major effect.

Anyway the latest FEMEN protest was outside the Embassy of Georgia in Kyiv, over three photographers detained in Georgia ostensibly it seems, for spying, despite one being the President of Georgia’s personal photographer. During their protests, caught on video and camera, a security guard for the Georgian Embassy takes it upon himself to physically repel the media and FEMEN protesters from around the embassy.

The video of said incident is here and it has not been censored, so you lucky people get to see a couple of FEMEN girls in all their glory.

The incident brought a formal and public apology from the Georgian Ambassador to Ukraine for the assault on the journalists, as well as a written apology on the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. All very good and diplomatically correct as far as apologies public and private are concerned, as well as the dismissal of the offending security guard.

However, how will it be recorded? Where and who will this assault on journalists be attributed to by the chaps at Reporters Without Borders? Is it counted against Ukraine or Georgia?

Whilst it happened in Kyiv and is therefore Ukraine, the territory of the Embassy of Georgia is de facto Georgian soil. It did though happen in the street outside the Georgian Embassy, so where does that territory end?

Does the fact the security guard involved in this assault being employed by the Georgian Embassy provide any form of diplomatic immunity (as the US tried to claim for their rather wayward CIA contractor in Pakistan earlier in the year) or not? If it does, how will RWB record this when it is carried out by a security guard acting on behalf (even if wrongly and in an unacceptable way) of the Georgian Embassy? It certainly is the case that the nation of Georgia accepts responsibility.

Ukraine, after all, has nothing to do with the assault on the journalists in this particular instance. They were being allowed freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom to do their job without influence. The incident did occur in Ukraine (possibly depending on the technicalities of where Georgian sovereign de facto soil ends). The security guard may well have been Ukrainian or Georgian. The journalists and protesters were certainly Ukrainian.

Nevertheless, it would seem rather harsh for RWB to count this as an assault on the press in Ukraine within the statistics, as the circumstances will soon be forgotten or never known surrounding it by those simply looking at the numbers during the hype of the next statistics publication.

Ukraine, fairly justifiably, may feel aggrieved at the opaque slight that it would have on the Ukrainian nation. It has enough instances of its own without being statistically held responsible for incidents at the Georgian Embassy in Kyiv, a location like all Embassies and Consuls that Ukraine has little control over on a day to day basis. Attempts to do so would cause a major diplomatic incident of far more gravity than the incident that has actually happened.

Any reasonable person would expect it to count against Georgian statistics given the full and very public apology from the government of Georgia.

The question is, will it count against Georgia given it happened in Kyiv?

As I said in yesterday’s post, it is always necessary to get behind the numbers and headlines to understand how the “international bodies and watchdogs” reach their published and somewhat influential results.

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