A nearly naked activist with the words “STOP RAPING US” and the Ukrainian flag painted on their chest stormed the red carpet at the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival on Friday. SCUM, a collective of French feminists, claimed the activist and their actions, which took place ahead of the world premiere of George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing.”
The action protested “the sexual torture” and rape as a weapon of war in Ukraine. In addition to the Ukrainian flag on the chest, the activist had red handprints painted on her stomach, around her vulva and on dirty underwear.
“Women are the first victims of the war, conducted by and for men. We remind that war pimping and war rape, which are part of the Russian will to destroy the Ukrainian people, are crimes against humanity. The rape of women must not be a way for soldiers to defile their enemy,” SCUM said in a statement to Jezebel.
The statement continued: “We remind that the inaction of Europe and the rest of the world in the face of the pimps’ and Russian soldiers’ violence is a form of complicity. We remind that in war as in peace, no woman is for sale, no woman is for rape, no man has the right to colonize and commercialize our bodies.”
Security put a coat on the activist and removed them from the red carpet prior to Miller’s film premiering. In a short clip at the carpet, you can see and hear the activist screaming their message.
The activist making their way onto the carpet at all was quite a feat as the location—Cannes’ Lumiere theater in the Palais—“requires multiple security checks,” says Variety.
“Guards are positioned outside of the carpet at stations that require attendees to walk through a metal detector. Once an attendee gets through that check point, they meet more guards at the start of the carpet that direct them when they are allowed to enter the theater,” explained the publication, which also added that “the red carpet itself is lined with security.”
Horrifying reports of rape have been coming out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in late February. Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, told NPR that Russian soldiers “systematically raped” two dozen women and girls in the capital suburb of Bucha in early May. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that Russians committed “atrocities” in Bucha. “What we’ve seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit,” Blinken told reporters. “It’s a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see.”
Prosecuting rape in the U.S. is already a big hurdle, so it stands to reason that in a war zone, that hurdle is even harder to clear. “It is difficult to fully confirm sexual violence because it’s often the type of case where victims don’t want to speak publicly, and they’re often not in safe areas where it feels safe for them to speak out, or where they have received the services that they need,” Matilda Bogner, a leader of United Nations investigative team documenting possible human rights abuses, told NPR.