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Photos of female soldiers in Ukraine wearing heels sparks outrage

Official photos of female cadets preparing to march in a parade have sparked outrage, with accusations of “sexism and misogyny”.

Official photos of female cadets in the Ukrainian Army have sparked outrage ahead of a parade marking 30 years of the country’s independence.

Ukraine’s defence ministry released photos on Friday showing female soldiers marching in camouflage uniforms while wearing mid-heel black shoes.

“Today, for the first time, training takes place in heeled shoes,” cadet Ivanna Medvid said on defence ministry’s information site, ArmiaInform. “It is slightly harder than in army boots but we are trying.”

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The choice of footwear sparked a torrent of criticism on social media and in parliament, and led to accusations that women soldiers had been sexualised.

“The story of a parade in heels is a real disgrace,” commentator Vitaly Portnikov said on Facebook.

She slammed Ukrainian officials for having a “medieval” mindset.

Commentator Maria Shapranova, accused the defence ministry of “sexism and misogyny”.

“High heels (sic) is a mockery of women imposed by the beauty industry,” she fumed.

Several politicians showed up in parliament with pairs of shoes and encouraged the defence minister to wear high heels to the parade.

“It is hard to imagine a more idiotic, harmful idea,” Inna Sovsun, a member of the Golos party said.

She said Ukraine’s female soldiers were risking their lives and did “not deserve to be mocked”.

Ukraine has been battling Russian-backed separatists in the country’s industrial east, in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

Olena Kondratyuk, deputy speaker of the legislature said authorities should publicly apologise for “humiliating” women and conduct an inquiry.

More than 13,500 women have been fighting in the current conflict and more than 31,000 women now serve in the Ukrainian armed forces.

The New York Times reports many female soldiers face sexual assault and harassment.

Researchers have shown that the soldiers are often assigned to poorly paid and low-ranking positions.

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