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




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