Anastasiya Melnychenko is the head of a Ukrainian human rights organization called Studena. Earlier this week, she said she came across a Facebook post from a man that described a woman he said he met in a park — she had been raped.
Melnychenko said the man’s Facebook post concluded that the woman “shouldn’t have been hanging around alone at night.” Outraged, she started a hashtag #яНеБоюсьСказати or #IamNotAfraidtoSayIt.
Now, Ukrainian and Russian women are using the hashtag to share their stories of street harassment, sexual harassment in the work place, and sexual abuse.
Melnychenko’s initial post has been shared hundreds of times and the hashtag has since gone viral, both in Ukraine and Russia. Conversations about sexual abuse are still relatively uncommon in these countries — especially Russia, which is deeply rooted in patriarchy — so, the response online to Melnychenko's post almost feels like a revolutionary moment, and many have taken note.
But it’s not just women who are using the hashtag.
Activists with the Campaign Against Discrimination applauded the hashtag, saying, “speaking about discrimination, injustice, violence is the first step toward change.”