NEWS

Is #MeToo Spreading to Russia, Too?

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The #MeToo movement seems to have spread to Russia, a country where outspoken criticism of sexual harassment was once taboo and where it is not still not a punishable offense.

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A recently published BBC report recounts the story of women who are coming forward to protest against or resisting unwelcome advances from men no matter how influential they are. The report highlights the predicament of professional women by telling the story of Russian journalists Daria Zhuk and Ekaterina Kotrikadz, who slowly gather the courage to stand up to Russian parliamentarian Leonid Slutsky. Slutsky made sexually laced advances toward them or assaulted them.

The BBC story says, "Zhuk is one of three female journalists who have accused Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma's committee on foreign relations, of inappropriate behavior toward them. Slutsky has denied all allegations.

"By going public with her story, Zhuk hopes the conversation around sexual harassment, which is not a punishable offense in Russia, might change.

"In some ways that conversation is already shifting. Zhuk and her colleagues' MeToo moments have been met with support from many Russian media outlets — an unexpected show of solidarity in a country where outspoken discord is often silenced."

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Both women have received messages of support and solidarity. Surprisingly, Zhuk has received messages from former high-level officials, too.

The story says, "In Russia traditional values hold firm and the MeToo movement has largely been written off as a foreign conceit. But maybe Russians will look back at the Slutsky allegations as the beginning of a change."