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Femen fights for right to protest topless in France

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Zhdanova was the first Femen activist to be convicted of topless protesting in France. Photo: AFP file picture
12:13 CET+01:00
The Paris-based topless feminist group Femen is fighting for its right to protest bare-chested, saying the laws preventing its members from displaying their upper bodies to get their messages across are nothing short of discrimination against women.

Iana Zhdanova was the first Femen activist to be convicted of a topless stunt in France.

But she is determined to fight the 2014 conviction for sexual exhibitionism claiming it is based purely based on discrimination against women.

“For us at Femen, our chests are our weapons,” she was quoted as telling French daily Le Parisien.

“Women's chests are used to advertise perfumes or in TV shows, and that's OK. But when it has anything to do with activism, it's suddenly shocking," she said.

Zhdanova, who was forced to seek political asylum in France after similar protests in her native Ukraine, was convicted of “sexual exhibitionism” by a French court in 2014 after stabbing a waxdoll of Russia's President Vladimir Putin at Paris's Grévin museum.

She had the text “kill Putin” written across her naked chest.

But she argues that she shouldn't be convicted of sexual exhibitionism, given that she is protesting and that men would not be subject to same charge if they bared their chests.

Her lawyer, Marie Dosé said that the ruling against her client was running against all principals in regards to equality between men and women.

“In the ruling it's written in black and white,” she said.

“It clearly states that a woman who shows off her torso in public can be subject to prosecution, while a man won't be, unless he shows off his genitals.”

Story continues below…

During France's anti-gay marriage protests a right-wing group of men,who named themselves Hommen protested bare-chested. None of them were prosecuted for sexual exhibitionism.

Zhdanova's appeal is due in court on Thursday.

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