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The Members Of Pussy Riot Will Leave Two Children Behind When They Head To Jail

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The members of the controversial feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot were sentenced today, after being found guilty of hooliganism for performing in Moscow’s main cathedral and asking for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia from recently re-elected President Vladimir Putin. Their trial, which has sparked international outrage and discussion about the oppression of political dissension in Russia, ended with the three charged activists being sentenced to two years in jail.

There will be a lot said about the harsh sentence for these three young women. Protests are already being organized across the globe. The likes of Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have all come to the defense of Pussy Riot. The women’s defense lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said they “hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight.”

Obviously, this is a big issue. It comes down to a right that we Americans hold very dear, freedom of speech. So I feel kind of like a jerk for being that person to say this… But I can’t stop thinking about the kids.

I know, I know. I’m lame. I’m missing the big picture. But the conversation around Pussy Riot hasn’t focused a lot on the females themselves. Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are the band-members sentenced to that jail time. And Maria and Nadezhda both have young children. These moms will be away from their children for years because they chose to stand up and defend their right to speak out against a political system that they find corrupt.

That bravery and sacrifice is something that leaves me in awe. I do not know that I would have the strength to be so resolute in the face of missing my daughter for that long. To say, “They are ready to continue the fight,” and then to realize that it might mean Nadezhda missing her 4-year-old daughter’s first day of school. It’ll mean missing up to two years of her daughter’s firsts. That puts this punishment in a very real perspective.

There’s more going on here than two moms being away from their kids. There are three women who are losing their freedom over a political statement that did not harm or damage anything. Pussy Riot seems to realize that their cause is bigger than their individual circumstance. But it’s amazing how often those watching these protests can forget that we’re talking about people, people with families that they’re going to miss.

I cannot begin to explain my respect for these strong ladies. I think all of us have to admire their commitment to freedom within their country. But I also cannot suppress the instinct in the back of my head that just feels sorrow for those kids who got caught in the middle of the political firestorm. I hope their mothers are returned to them soon.

(Photo: Daniel Deme/WENN.com)