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28 May, 2013 08:58

‘No dummies tummies!’ Indian mannequins covering up to cut sex crimes

‘No dummies tummies!’ Indian mannequins covering up to cut sex crimes

The civic body that governs Mumbai has passed a proposal to ban the display of bikini-clad mannequins outside lingerie shops to prevent the growing rate of sex offenders in the city recording the second-highest number of rapes in India.

India's richest municipal organization, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which features some 227 councilors from across parties, has unanimously supported the proposal by a female politician from Shiv Sena party and called on its commissioner to shape up a new policy on ‘indecent display’ in public areas. Once approved, civic officials will have a legal right to make local shopkeepers to remove a mannequin if they find it ‘underdressed’.

"Especially two-piece clothes which barely cover the body have led to pollution of minds in today's generation. Such a display affects the mindset of men. One must think of the awkwardness a woman will feel standing in front of such a mannequin," BJP councilor from Ghatkopar, Ritu Tawade, told The Indian Express. 

According to the 39-year-old, who has already forced several shops in her ward to cut short the display of their indecent mannequins, provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, say that "indecent representation of women means the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman; her form or body or any part thereof in such way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, or denigrating women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals."

Indian men, including legislators and judges, often blame ‘provocative clothing’ for inciting violence and sexual harassment against women.

Demonstrators stand behind posters during a protest rally in New Delhi on February 21, 2013. Demonstrators called for changes in a proposed law against sexual crimes, saying it needed to be stronger and more defined. (AFP Photo / Sajjad Hussain)

In the final two months of 2012, the International Center for Research on Women conducted a survey amongst New Delhi residents to find out their attitudes toward sexual violence. Ninety-five per cent of the female respondents reported feeling unsafe in public, due to the perceived threat of sexual violence against women, while 75 per cent of men agreed that “women provoke men by the way they dress.”

One woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Anti-rape protests swept the country with thousands of people, including women lawmakers, calling for strict and immediate action from the authorities after a 23-year-old medical student was gang raped in a moving bus in December. The woman was fatally injured in the attack and died in a Singapore hospital.

Mumbai recorded a more-than-15 per cent increase in incidents of rape, molestation and sexual harassment in 2011 over 2010, according to a report cited by The Times of India. Mumbai witnessed 221 incidents of rape, with 39 per cent - or 117 - of these victims under 18. Forty-one per cent of the total 584 rape cases across nine police jurisdictions in the state were filed in the city.

(AFP Photo / Raveendran)

A recent survey conducted by Trust Law, showed that India is the fourth worst country for women to live in, behind only Afghanistan, the Congo, and Pakistan. India was ranked the worst out of the G20 nations as it had abuse, violence, and murder on scales unparalleled in the other G20 nations, with reasons behind this including high rates of forms of slavery and exploitation.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, despite an increase in the number of reported rapes, convictions have dropped by a third,

“indicating failure on the part of the police to conduct investigations and prosecutions.” The average wait time for the judiciary to try a rape case in India is over 600 days, with many cases taking five to 10 years to complete. As of March 2013, 24000 cases of sexual assault cases are pending before state High Courts and the Supreme Court of India.

Meanwhile, studies reveal that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are on duty. When they report rape charges to male officers, they are often humiliated. India, however, has a much lower number of female police than other Asian countries. In New Delhi, for instance, merely 7 per cent of police officers are women, according to The Times of India.