MOSCOW, Russia -- What do you get when you mix a dozen strippers, a soundtrack of throbbing house music and chants of "only Putin, only sex!"? The ultimate celebration of International Women's Day, Russian-style.
The March 8 holiday is one of Russia's most celebrated. Yet nearly 100 years after it was first marked in Russia, it now works best to illustrate the sorry state of women's rights in a country where chauvinism is largely admired, sexual harassment widely tolerated and domestic violence a subject that is all but taboo.
On Sunday night, hundreds of Muscovites packed a club called Rai (Paradise), to attend an International Women's Day event called Putin Party. The honoree was in theory selected by a poll of female club employees asked to choose the sexiest man from a list of international celebrities. The idea was intended to provoke scandal: The use of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's name made the night the talk of the town. His spokesman came out to meekly denounce the event when it was first announced last week.