Citizens say civic plan to ban bikini-clad mannequins ‘regressive’

Ad film-maker Prahlad Kakkar said “moral policing” by Sena was not new.

Written by Sharvari Patwa | Published: May 28, 2013 3:50 am

Mumbaikars slammed Tuesday a proposal passed by BMC recently to ban display of bikini-clad mannequins outside lingerie shops to prevent sex crimes. They said the “highly regressive” and “illogical” step was moral policing by Shiv Sena.

The proposal,sent for municipal commissioner nod,was mooted by BJP corporator from Ghatkopar Ritu Tawade and passed unanimously without discussion at a general body meeting.

Tawade,a 39-year-old commerce graduate,said display of inadequately clothed mannequins was indecent and could provoke “wrong acts” by men.

Former mayor Shubha Raul said: “Most woman corporators wholeheartedly supported the move. Using scantily clad mannequins causes ‘cultural pollution’. It is like using a ‘sex toy’. The mannequins are placed on footpaths and are easily accessible to even children who often ask parents uncomfortable questions.”

Ad film-maker Prahlad Kakkar said this kind of “moral policing” by Shiv Sena was not new.

“The city has time and again seen such targeting of women. Why don’t they tell shopkeepers how to sell lingerie. As per their logic,we should dress up women in burqas so that their bodies are not misused for advertising or selling products,” he said.

Veteran stage personality Mahabano Mody Kotwal,part of Vagina Monologues,said,“These corporators are trying to divert attention from their failure to supply water and provide better roads. If such display of mannequins leads to rise in rapes,one should ban all kinds of films,advertisements and item numbers. One should understand that men are aroused not because of such displays but because there is huge repression of such emotions in society. Even talking about sex is taboo,which arouses curiosity.”

“We will examine the proposal in detail and ensure as per conditions of Shops & Establishments Licenses Act,no shop indulges in obscene representation of women,” said municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte.

Women’s rights lawyer Veena Gowda said linking violence against women to mannequins was again blaming a woman’s body.

“Any such demand based on a morality judgement is problematic as it stems from a highly conservationist and protectionist approach,” she said.

Actor Gul Panag,however,said: “On one side,we have forward-thinking people,on the other hand,this city is seeing an increasing number of migrants from hinterlands who have not even seen a woman unaccompanied by men. Anything could trigger extreme behaviour in such people. Although as a liberal mind,the idea to censor visual display of merchandise is ridiculous.”

sharvari.patwa@expressindia.com

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