This is a thoughtful essay about the history of hunger strikes and incarcerated women, from the Suffragists to Pussy Riot. People denied a voice (or dependent on the voices of those outside the prison to be heard) sometimes use this tactic to call attention to their situation and political beliefs. Force-feeding tactics are violent and invasive, a kind of torture in themselves, as this blog demonstrates. Self-martyrdom in the name of a cause is a kind of leadership-at-the-end-of-its-rope, a protest against silence, a “solitary defiance” of perceived and/or real injustice.
A warning: not for the weak of stomach!
Doctor: “What will you eat for dinner?”
Marion Wallace-Dunlop: “My determination.” July, 1909.
The following contains descriptions of invasive procedures with a sexual overtone which some readers may find upsetting.
Maria “Masha” Alyokhin, 24 year old Pussy Rioter, has ended her hunger strike after eleven days. She renewed interest in the band and their cause last week when she was hospitalised with low blood pressure as a result of her stand against prison authorities. She stopped eating because she was denied permission to attend her parole hearing where prosecutors refused her and fellow anti-Putinist band member, Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, early release.
Last August, Masha, Nadya and Yekaterina “Katya” Samutsevich – were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for a performance in a Moscow cathedral, although Katya successfully appealed her conviction. Masha and Nadya are recognised as political prisoners by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. The court dismissed the fact that the two women have young children as grounds for their release. “They are simply hooligans,” the court…
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