Russia's #metoo: Women say they 'need public attention'

A woman with her back to camera holds a sign, with text in Russian.Image copyright
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A protester at a Moscow rally holding a sign in support of civil rights

Russian women have evoked the hashtag #metoo to share their experiences of abuse and harassment.

Using the hashtag “I need public attention” (#Mne_nuzhna_glasnost in Russian), women have described how they have been affected by non-consensual acts such as touching and catcalling.

It comes against the backdrop of a high-profile trial in Russia, where three sisters have been charged with the murder of their ‘abusive’ father.

The hashtag was started by a Russian blogger who shared a story of harassment and asked others to join her by “speaking out”.

“I need public attention,” she wrote on Twitter. “I ask you ladies, to speak out and not keep silent.”

The tweet inspired others to share their experiences, with one prominent post liked more than 3,700 times.

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клюквенный сырок/Twitter

Translation: I am tired that I am scared to go outside after dark; I am tired that I suspect every man passing by; I am tired of coming up with escape plans and thinking about how I will protect myself with apartment keys.

Some women wrote about how prominent catcalling had become in Russian society, calling it “scary and uncomfortable”.

“Some think that if you are catcalled on the street it means you look great,” wrote one woman. “Not true. You feel bad and you recall it years later.”

Other people using the hashtag focused on consent, with one woman writing “we always need to think about self-defence”.

“Why is a ‘no’ for them a flirty ‘yes’?” She tweeted. “Why do they touch us when it is uncomfortable for us, and bully us for our reactions?

“What is not clear about ‘no’?”

Meanwhile, some men have also come forward to share their experiences of harassment by using the hashtag, including one blogger who said it is “not only women” who face this kind of treatment.

“When I was 15, in the morning in a completely packed metro carriage a woman was rubbing against me for 20 minutes,” he wrote. “We need nothing other than equality.”

#Metoo was a prominent hashtag which was used millions of times in 2017 by women and men to show the scale of sexual assaults around the world.

Additional reporting by Yaroslava Kiryukhina