The Russian Orthodox Church’s advice to Russian women to cut down on alcohol and dress more modestly not to provoke men from the Caucasus continues to spark anger among feminist activists. Rights groups accused the church of sexism, and even described clerics’ call for a national “dress code” as attempts to introduce a “Christian hijab” in a secular state.
The church’s statement came amidst an increase in tensions between nationalists and Russian citizens of Caucasus descent. Russian media often promote stereotypical portraits of men from the Caucasus — collectively described as “Caucasians” — as macho swashbucklers, with a penchant for harassing Russian women.
“If she [a woman] wears a mini-skirt, than she may provoke even a Russian, let alone a Caucasian,” opined Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who handles the church’s public relations. “If on tops of this she’s also drunk, then she is sure to provoke somebody.”
While many rights activists are rolling their eyes, a group called Pro-Feminism is collecting signatures to request Russian Patriarch Kirill I that the church refrains from discriminatory and sexist statements in the future.
The Russian muftiyat, a Russia-wide Muslim council, has also come out in support of the Archpriest’s dress code.