A naked female activist from Ukraine’s Femen movement staged a short, but vivid, protest demanding “Freedom for women” in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square.
Appearing in the square in a see-through blouse immediately following the Pope’s regular Sunday address, the activist, Aleksandra Shevchenko, waved her banner and started pulling her clothes off. She was detained by Italian police in the space of minutes.
The Italian police were expecting their visit, and Shevchenko’s two associates were captured as they tried to make their way to the square. Femen says an Australian journalist who accompanied them was also detained for questioning.
The activists spent about four hours in detention.
According to a statement, Femen were protesting against the anti-feminist policies of the Vatican that “impose patriarchal, medieval concepts of social and cultural positioning of women.”
“Condemning the usage of contraceptives, worldwide anti-abortion lobby, attempts to restrict the attire and the appearance of women, and prohibition from acquiring church ranks is nothing more than a foul-smelling belch of the witch hunt,” the statement said.
The anti-Pope protest completed Femen’s naked tour of Italy. A day earlier, another topless rally in Rome saw activists painted green, red and white demand the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“Women really hate Berlusconi. We are trying to show our opinion to all people who are here today. We came to support them and to say that politicians like Berlusconi and Yanukovich cannot protect people who live in their own country,” one Femen protester is quoted as saying by Associated Press.
Femen’s naked protest tour was supported by Italian former porn star and Member of Parliament Ilona Staller. Known by her stage name la Cicciolina, she is famous for delivering political speeches with one breast exposed.
According to Ukrainian Ridus news agency, it was Staller, 59, who invited Femen to Italy in the first place.