An Instagram campaign took Russia by storm with several women posting pictures with scrunched faces showing wrinkles, as a sign of protest against loud mouthed officials. The move by Russian women came after the Children’s rights minister of Russia Pavel Astakhov decided to defend 50-year-old Chechen local police chief Nazud Guchigov’s forced marriage with a 17–year-old girl.
It all began when a media storm followed by a social media outrage emerged against the forced union which involves Guchigov a close friend of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is already married once. The marriage was defended by Kadyrov who lashed out at women and the media.
Defending them further Astakhov, when he was questioned regarding the girl being minor, said that the outrage was not justified and that women in the caucus start getting wrinkles by the time they are in late 20’s.
This statement of his triggered another social media explosion with women following feminism activist and journalist Bella Rapoport started posting selfies on Instagram with scrunched faces under a new hashtag which means ‘wrinkled women’. In their posts women heavily criticized Astakhov and called him a hypocrite. He was also blamed for allowing the marriage of an underage girl.
Rapoport told the media that she posted the images because she was outraged by the way women were being treated as an object. This is a part of a campaign against the violation of women’s rights in Russia and mainly in Chechnya. There has also been a petition signed by 35000 people which demands the removal of Astakhov from office.
Astakhov issued an apology on his Instagram account following the criticism. He wrote that women of all ages are splendid and adorable and went on to say that "God created Woman so that we could love her, defend her, take care of her, glorify her. A clumsy comparison, a rash word taken out of the context ofcourse cannot change my attitude to the Fair Sex. I've loved, love and shall love and respect [them]! I apologize for the mistake I've made!”
Kremlin has refused to comment on the issue. While the Russian administration turns a blind eye to such incidents, the situation for women’s rights in Chechnya continues to deteriorate.