Ban Mannequins to Stop Rape

I did a double take while scanning FoxNews earlier this week.

“Indian city to ban lingerie mannequins in attempt to stop rape” was the headline of an article that caught my eye – perhaps because I’d read several recently about rapes in India.

The first sentence of the article says: Mannequins displaying lingerie and other skimpy clothing may soon be banned in India’s cosmopolitan city of Mumbai as an anti-rape measure.  Read more.

An anti-rape measure…really?

According to the article, Ritu Tawde, a city council member, said she proposed the ban on scantily-clad mannequins outside of shops because “such displays degrade women and could provoke men to attack them.”

Hmmm…she might have a point there about the degradation of women….

I understand her concern and I know there has been a demand for stronger protections for women since the gang rape/killing of a student in New Delhi back in December.

But, banning mannequins?

She reasons:  “Such people get provoked by mannequins. After all, a mannequin is a replica of a woman’s body. That’s why I oppose it, because mannequins do not suit Indian culture. However, shop owners will still be able to display mannequins how they want inside their stores.”

Um…no.  I think she doesn’t understand rape.  Rape is not about sex, or about sexual arousal.  It’s about power.

Perhaps she’s concerned about what she sees to be a culture of rape and seeks to hinder that culture by hiding images of women’s bodies.

(Honestly, when was the last time you saw a scantily clad mannequin that looked like any woman’s body that you’ve ever seen?)

I understand her concern that these scantily clad mannequins don’t suit her culture.  I can remember when they didn’t suit the culture here in the good ol’ US of A.  But, times change. People change.  Ideas change.  Cultures change.

The internet alone forced change in all of the above mentioned areas. Today an amazing variety of images that are instantly available – anything that can be imagined can be found online.

Ritu Tawde feels Internet images are different than mannequins standing on the street/walkway.  ‘If someone wants to watch pornography on the net, that is a conscious choice that he is making. In this case, the mannequins are everywhere and people don’t have a choice. They run into them when they step out of their homes and walk on the streets.”

Business officials say the proposed ban will have no impact on violence against women.

While I appreciate Tawde’s concern, I find myself agreeing with Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association.  “We are living in the 21st century where these kinds of things, all porn, the movies, the pictures, all these things are available on websites, available on mobiles. (A) mannequin hardly makes any difference to the people.”

What do you think?

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