Topless feminists protest ‘Win a Wife’ competition in Ukraine

Ukrainian feminist activists from the organisation FEMEN held a protest in the Ukrainian capital Kiev this week to express outrage at the forthcoming visit of the winner of a New Zealand radio station The Rock‘s “Win a Wife” competition, which offered a 12-night trip to Ukraine with $2000 spending money and the opportunity to meet a potential wife though the bride agency “Endless Love”. To gain attention to their cause the women protested topless, despite the harsh cold of the East European winter. The group held banners with slogans such as “Ukraine is not a brothel”. “Femen warns the lucky winner of the New Zealand competition that he can expect an unhappy ending in Ukraine,” activist Olexandra Shevchenko said in a statement on the movement’s blog.

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The “Lucky winner” is a winemaker known publicly only by his first name Greg. Greg is due in the gritty coal mining town of Donetsk later this month before also visiting the industrial town of Zaporizhia. The competition has already been met with criticism from New Zealand feminists, including former Green Party MP Sue Bradford, and from New Zealand’s small Ukrainian community. Even the Ukrainian ambassador weighed in on the debate with a letter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. FEMEN’s members often “wear little but flower garlands” in their frequent protests against Ukraine’s sex industry and targeting of Ukrainian women by international agencies that organise ‘sex tours’. They have also used the topless protesting tactic to draw attention to the interference of Russia in the country’s affairs and restrictions on media freedom and the right to demonstrate.

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