Feminist activists’ headquarters burns down after group received “burn witches” threat

Inna Shevchenko in front of the FEMEN Centre remains. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

The Paris Headquarters of controversial topless feminist group FEMEN burned down over the weekend, and while police are calling the fire “accidental,” my feminist spidey sense is saying otherwise. The group is claiming that they’ve been a victim of arson, a not-impossible prospect considering that a) they receive death threats every day, and b) the day before the fire broke out they received a message that said “burn witches”. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire.

The group has previously stated that their key goal is “to end patriarchy, to destroy it,” and that “patriarchy as we perceive it will no longer exist.” I can see why this would be a troubling goal to some feminist haters. The sad reality is that threats of violence and actual violence against feminist activists have become startlingly common. While we may not all agree with their tactics, many of which include topless protests that many find particularly problematic in the context of their purported work in Muslim community, as a global feminist movement we must not condone the alleged use of violence against any activists and in particular those who face gendered and explicitly anti-feminist threats. Solidarity to the sisters of FEMEN as they look to rebuild their space and move forward with their work. I will keep you posted if we learn of specific ways they are asking for support.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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