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Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova

Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova: The Tragic Lives of Conjoined Twins

Masha and Dasha: In the dark days of Soviet-era Russia, the plight of Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, conjoined twins born in Moscow in 1950, serves as a haunting reminder of the inhumane treatment endured by those labelled as “defectives.”

Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova
Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova

Snatched from their mother’s care at birth, the twins were subjected to a lifetime of torment and experimentation by Russian scientists. Their harrowing story told through the lens of British journalist Juliet Butler in her book “The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep,” sheds light on the twins’ struggle for individuality amidst a backdrop of dehumanization and suffering.

Masha and Dasha: A Childhood of Deception

Masha and Dasha’s mother was initially deceived by doctors who claimed that she had given birth to a mutant child who was being taken away. Unbeknownst to their mother, the twins were kept hidden from her and lied to about their family. They were led to believe that their parents had abandoned them, while in reality, they had two brothers they were never aware of.

Human Guinea Pigs

The twins’ unique physiology, with separate nervous systems but a shared blood system, made them valuable subjects for scientific experimentation. Soviet scientists saw them as perfect human guinea pigs to study the separate functions of the nervous and blood systems.

Over a span of 12 years, Masha and Dasha were subjected to horrendous experiments, enduring injections of various substances, exposure to radioactive iodine, sleep deprivation, extreme hunger, and temperature variations. Their bodies were burned and electrocuted in the name of scientific research.

Masha and Dasha: End of the Torture

The experiments ceased with the arrival of Khrushchev, as the atmosphere shifted and medical torture was no longer tolerated. By then, the scientists had achieved their desired results, having pushed the twins to the limits of physical and emotional endurance.

Masha and Dasha: Meeting Juliet Butler

In 1988, Masha and Dasha made a plea on television to be transferred to a different institution, catching the attention of British journalist Juliet Butler. Intrigued, she reached out to the twins and eventually developed a close relationship with them over a span of 15 years.

Butler, who spoke Russian, assisted Masha in writing an autobiography, which was published in various countries in 2000. However, the heavily edited version caused dissatisfaction between Masha and Butler, leading Butler to pen a fictionalized account in order to better capture the twins’ emotional and physical experiences.

Masha and Dasha: A Tale of Contrasting Personalities

Masha and Dasha displayed stark differences in their personalities. Masha, the more dominant and self-centred twin, exhibited traits of psychopathy, lacking empathy, manipulating others, and exhibiting control over her sister.

In contrast, Dasha was kind, gentle, and generous, carrying the burden of caring about people’s perceptions of them. Their divergent personalities shaped their perspectives on their disabilities and the way they were treated.

Masha and Dasha: Love, Sexuality, and Gender Identity

The twins’ outlook on love, romance, and gender was equally contrasting. Dasha, feminine and romantic, fell in love with a boy named Slava, while Masha displayed signs of being a covert lesbian.

Masha suppressed their femininity, dressing them in men’s clothing and keeping them from wearing makeup. The topic of sex also emerged, with Dasha’s desire to explore her sexuality, but Masha’s control prevented her from fully experiencing it.

Masha and Dasha: Living Conditions and Legacy

Masha and Dasha endured a life of confinement, residing in five state-run institutions characterized by bleak conditions. The last institution they lived in was particularly dire, with a tiny, narrow room containing only a single

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Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.