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‘Instead of her face, I saw a pizza’: How women in Russia are fighting back against sexual assault

33 minutes
‘Instead of her face, I saw a pizza’: How women in Russia are fighting back against sexual assault
00:0033:07

In life and in news reporting, violence against women is a sadly “evergreen” topic, but the issue has taken on new and growing momentum in Russia, where there’s a rising number of high-profile cases involving rape and self-defense. Meduza has reported extensively on these investigations, and, in this first episode of “The Naked Pravda,” managing editor Kevin Rothrock speaks to a handful of activists and journalists who are working to shed more light on these cases and the social movement that hopes to transform how Russia handles women’s safety.

In this episode:

  • (1:20) In mid-October, after weeks of hesitation, a journalist in Veliky Novgorod publicly accused a colleague from another local news outlet of raping her. (Read Meduza’s report here.) Why was she reluctant to speak openly about the assault?
  • (5:22) Marina Pisklakova-Parker, the founder and chair of the board of the women’s rights group “Center ANNA,” recalls how women’s rights advocacy in Russia has evolved since the 1990s, and discusses the impact of being designated as a “foreign agent” by the Justice Ministry.
  • (8:18) Hilah Kohen, Meduza’s English-language news editor, argues that ethical storytelling in cases of sexual violence focuses on survivors and frames allegations in a broader social context. 
  • (14:40) Elena Kalinina, a managing partner at the advertising agency “Room485,” explains how her team created an interactive game designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and abusive partners.
  • (17:45) Anna Romashchenko, region coordinator for the advocacy group “Nasiliu.net” (No to Violence), talks about creating safe spaces for women in Russia and the unexpected demographics of views about women’s rights. 
  • (20:18) Ola Cichowlas, AFP’s Moscow correspondent, recounts her story about a woman in Moscow who was prosecuted for defending herself against an abusive partner.
  • (23:26) Nastya Krasilnikova, who writes on Telegram about representations of women in the Russian media, argues that many news outlets actively “hate women,” but there is more willingness now than before to talk about sexual assault.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe relationship, there are resources available, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the U.S. and the National Domestic Violence Helpline in the UK. In Russia, you can contact Nasiliu.net, Center ANNA, and other groups.

“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Fridays. Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Executive producer — Alexandr Sadikov

Music — Victor Davydov

Send any questions or comments to kevin@meduza.io