Anastasiya Melnychenko, head of Ukrainian human rights organization Studena, has caused a stir on social media with #IamNotAfraidtoSayIt, a hashtag for women to talk about their experiences of harassment and sexual abuse. Melnychenko said she was inspired by a Facebook post from a man who described how he found a woman in a park who had been raped. The poster concluded that the woman was at fault — since she “shouldn’t have been hanging around alone at night.”
Melnychenko responded with a Facebook post of her own, in which she detailed her own experiences of abuse at the hands of her uncle as a preteen, and later, at the hands of her ex-husband. “We do not have to to make excuses,” writes Melnychenko. “We are not to blame, a rapist is always to blame. I am not afraid to talk. And I don’t feel guilty.”
Melnychenko then questions whether men understand what it’s like to be a woman in society. “Do men ever wonder what it is like to grow up in an atmosphere where you are treated like meat?” she asks. “You didn’t do anything, but everyone feels entitled to fuck you and dispose your body.”
Melnychenko concludes that most men “are unlikely to understand,” and that women, therefore, need to take the initiative to share their stories and make men aware of the reality of their experiences. “It is important to make it visible,” wrote Melnychenko. “Please speak.”
Ukrainian and Russian women — as well as men — have taken up the call, sharing countless incidents of sexual abuse and the muted, victim-blaming responses of their friends and loved ones.
Read the full story at Buzzfeed.