Mumbai bans scantily clad mannequins as they incite sex crimes #Rape #WTFnews #Moralpolicing

Mannequins on the move

Mumbai Mirror | May 30, 2013,
Mannequins on the move
Shanta Gokhale: Separating the best from the banal on Mumbai‘s culturescape

By: Shanta Gokhale

It was reported a couple of days ago, that Ms Ritu Tawade, the BJP corporator from Ghatkopar, had proposed banning lingerie clad mannequins from shop-windows and roadside stalls because “two piece clothes which barely cover the body have led to pollution of minds in today’s generation.” Reading between the lines of Ms Tawade’s becomingly modest statement in which no unspeakable word had passed her lips, our mayor Shri Sunil Prabhu explained that such “scantily clad mannequins do invite unwanted attention of men and result in a surge of sex crimes.” By sex crimes he did not of course mean just touching and groping, crimes for which my aunt, now 86, beat up a man with her umbrella on Dadar bridge in premannequin days. He also meant rape. We now learn that Ms Tawade’s proposal has been passed unanimously by all 227 corporators, cutting across party lines.

It is heartening to know that, whether or not our gutters are cleaned and roads repaired before the rains, our corporators are dedicatedly working towards cleaning up men’s minds. In their utopia, once those scantily dressed mannequins have been bundled off their stands, women will walk free, without having to constantly look before, behind and beside them for signs of unwanted male attention. Like collateral damage during drone attacks, there’s also a collateral benefit attached to abolishing lingeried mannequins. It will drive pollution out of shop and stall assistants’ minds. For remember Ms Tawade, it is they who dress (or perhaps you prefer the word ‘underdress’?) the mannequins. Oh baba! Not just looking looking, but actually touching touching!

One knows of course that corporators’ job specifications don’t include reading and thinking. So Ms Tawade can’t be faulted for not knowing that rape has a more complex pathology and a longer history than can be settled with the mere de-mannequinning of our visual space. We are only talking about dummies here, plastic representations of women. But in Cameroon the fear of rape has resulted in a practice that savagely damages real women’s real bodies. Breast ironing as it is colourfully called, is a part of Cameroon sanskriti. It involves mothers beating their pubescent daughters’ breasts to prevent them from developing. The most widely used implements to achieve this goal are wooden pestles, ladles, spatulas, grinding stones or any other blunt object that’s handy. Breasts are beaten to protect girls from sexual harassment and rape. The collateral benefit of girls not being raped is families not losing their honour because of unwanted pregnancies.

In our country, we have a more radical tradition. In the old days we killed girls at birth, with midwives obliging. Now technology has helped us progress. We preempt birth itself. No girls, no threat to society’s morals.

Returning to Ms Tawade, I had this vision of a simple woman who had been brought up in the traditional way with traditional values. Like the majority of women in this country, she would probably rather die than say bra in public. Developing the picture further, I saw her suffering sleepless nights over the growing crimes against women in her city. Tossing and turning, she hunted for a solution. Then suddenly one day she had it. “Eureka! It’s the dummies, dummy,” she cried and promptly set to work to banish them from sight.

This beguiling picture was destroyed in toto when I saw and heard her on a television talk show on Tuesday night. Far from being simple, she turned out to be an astute politician. Towards the end of the discussion, such as it was, with three representatives of India all yakking in English ranged against this lone representative of Bharat speaking in Hindi, she quietly shifted the goalpost from crimes against women to encroachment on pavements. For a second the other panellists raced on like cartoon characters, skidding to a halt only when they realised that their quarry was no longer before them but had quietly climbed a tree. Making the most of the few seconds of talking time she had wrested from the others, Ms Tawade spoke heatedly about mannequins at roadside stalls eating up pavement space, thereby encroaching on pedestrians’ right to walk on them. Rape? Who said anything about rape?

None of the other panellists had the presence of mind to question her about mannequins in shop windows which didn’t encroach on pedestrians’ rights. Were they to be allowed to pollute the minds of today’s generation? But time was up. Ms Tawade had won the round. Jai political gamesmanship! Jai Bharat!

Liked/hated her column? Write to Shanta Gokhale at



Cameroon- Breast Ironing to avoid sexual violence

In a desperate attempt to prevent sexual assault and teen pregnancy, Cameroonian mothers are literally ironing their daughters’ breasts with hot stones to make them less attractive.

Breast ironing is not an acceptable form of pregnancy prevention or a replacement for sex education.

The ritual affects a quarter of all women in Cameroon and as soon as they show signs of puberty, sometimes as young as nine. The girls cry as they’re held down and scalding hot stones are pressed onto their breasts.

The possible damage of this practice can be severe, including bruises, deformities, abscesses, and even the disappearance of one or both breasts.

Cameroon mothers may think breast ironing is “for their [daughters’] own good,” but it’s not the way to prevent sexual violence and early pregnancy. Urge UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to speak out against breast ironing and to advocate for adequate sex education in Cameroon.
Please do sign the petition>

Cameroon Rape Victims Confront Legal Gauntlet

By Irene Zih Fon, January 25, 2012

Rape victims in Cameroon can get medical treatment at hospitals and file a police report to set a case in motion, but providing evidence to prove that rape occurred can be difficult. Others don’t report incidents at all because of poverty or shame.

DOUALA, Cameroon (WOMENSENEWS)–Sophie Mixte, who is in her 30s, says she was raped three times growing up. But it wasn’t until the third incident that her parents found out and reported it to the police.

When her mother turned to authorities for help though, it didn’t do her any good, she says.

“The police started to play around the case with my mother, persuading her to drop the case,” she says.

Instead of going to court, the case was settled privately. The family of her rapist paid her mother $200, the equivalent of Mixte’s hospital bill after the rape.

In Cameroon, rape victims can obtain medical treatment in hospitals. Doctors test for pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and make HIV-prevention drugs and emergency contraceptives available. They also administer a physical examination that can provide evidence in court that the rape occurred, as well as be used to obtain an abortion, which is otherwise illegal.

But the combination of an intrusive medical exam and an intrusive legal system–as well as strong cultural beliefs about rape victims–seem to discourage many rape victims from seeking justice.

The National Network of Associations of Aunties, a coalition of groups working to combat rape in Cameroon, estimates that 500,000 rapes occur every year in the country. But many are never documented because of underreporting.

Dr. Jean Pierre Koubitim of the St. Padre Pio Hospital in Douala agrees. He says rape incidents are a daily occurrence, with victims ranging from children to adults, attacks occurring inside and outside the home, and perpetrators being strangers or relatives. Yet because of underreporting, the hospital receives just 15 to 20 reports of sexual violence per year, mostly of attempted rape, he says.

“The youngest victim is about 4 years old and was raped by a cousin in their home,” he says.

One Rape Report

Epossi Adeline is the director of the Association for the Fight Against Violence Toward Women, a nongovernmental group that operates a center for victims of gender violence. She says the center has received 70 cases of violence against women since it began operations in 2010. Fifty of these were reports of domestic violence; just one was a rape report.

She also attributes this to underreporting, not to low prevalence.

According to the Cameroon Penal Code, the penalty for rape is five to 10 years in prison when victims are 16 and older and 15 to 25 years in prison when victims are under 16. Prison time may be doubled or for life when offenders have authority over or custody of the victims, are public servants or religious ministers, or are assisted by one or more people.

Convicted rapists rarely receive long prison terms though, says Esther Ngale, president of the Cameroon Association of Female Jurists. She says that, in general, those proven guilty of rape may receive sentences ranging from six months to five years.

Jacob Angoh Angoh, a member of Legal Power Law Firm, made up of barristers and solicitors in Cameroon and Nigeria, says a rape victim must file a formal complaint at a police unit in order to start a case.

The Cameroon Penal Code defines rape as any female compelled to have sexual intercourse with a man “by force or moral ascendancy.”

Angoh Angoh says that the victim should be able to prove that the sexual relationship was not consensual.

“Hence, she must prove that she shouted or she complained to the first person she met at the given opportunity,” he says.

Police’s Decision

Once a complaint is made, the police usually arrest the suspect immediately, he says. It is up to the police to decide whether to pursue the case. If police decide the case has sufficient evidence, they forward it to the state counsel.

Ngale says the victim can choose to use the state prosecutor or hire a private lawyer.

Angoh Angoh encourages rape victims not to be afraid to report incidents because rape cases are not tried in an open court in Cameroon. He says the state maintains victims’ reputation by hearing cases in the chamber of the magistrate in the presence of the two parties, the lawyers, the magistrate and any witnesses.

“Because if the public knows that a girl is a victim of rape, how many men would dare approach her?” he asks.

During the trial, Angoh Angoh says the victim must establish evidence that she resisted or was subdued by the person who allegedly raped her.

“This can be proven by circumstantial evidence, such as wounds on her body,” he says. “If she shouted and people heard her, those people would support her evidence.”

Otherwise, he says, the court may assume “that some girls just make up such stories to make money.”

Angoh Angoh says the law also provides for a defense of provocation, in which case the court presumes that the woman contributed to the act. For instance, taking into consideration whether the woman dressed a certain way, invited the perpetrator into her room or worked as a prostitute.

He says the law also takes into account whether they’d been in a relationship before or if the woman had been giving the impression that they were in a relationship by accepting gifts from him.


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