« 2017. #3 (135)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2017, 3 (135), 555–565

UDK 343.264:364.633]­055.2(477)

https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2017.03.555

WOMEN’S BODIES AND SEXUALITY IN CONFINEMENT: EXPERIENCES OF THE UKRAINIAN WOMEN POLITICAL PRISONERS OF THE GULAG

Kis Oksana, candidate of sciences in history,

Senior Researcher at the Institute of Ethnology

of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,

departmeny of social anthropology.

Svobody Avenue 15, 79000, Lviv, Ukraine.

Contacts: e-mail: oksanakis55@gmail.com

Abstract. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women have been convicted to long¬term imprisonment in the Gulag for political accusations in the mid 20th century. Peculiarities of women’s experiences of confinement were to the great extend determined by specific features of a woman’s body. This theme however is one of the most repressed in women’s narratives from the GULAG. This article is based on the analysis of personal testimonies of former female political prisoners of the GULAG. It discusses what happened to a woman’s body behind the barbed wire and how women tried to preserve their physical health. It shows that a woman’s sexuality could turn into an additional source of survival for some women (taking form of a survival prostitution, quasi¬family alliances etc.). This article also explores the widespread practices of gendered sexual violence against female convicts (forced nudity, body integrity violation, rape etc.).

Keywords: GULAG, political prisoners, Ukrainian women, sexual violence, woman’s body.

Received 21.03.2017

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