Japan vagina artist convicted in obscenity case
09 May 2016, 13:46
Tokyo – A Japanese artist who makes objects shaped like her vagina
was convicted on Monday after a high-profile obscenity trial, in a decision
likely to reignite accusations of heavy-handed censorship.
The Tokyo District Court slapped Megumi Igarashi with a $3 700
fine, but the penalty was half what prosecutors had demanded as she was also
cleared of one of several charges.
Igarashi was arrested two years ago for trying to raise funds
online to pay for the construction of a kayak by disseminating a coded 3D image
of her genitals that would allow users to make copies.
While Japan has a multi-billion-dollar pornography industry,
actual depictions of genitalia are banned and the artist was charged in July
Igarashi who calls herself Rokude Nashiko – slang that loosely translates
as "reprobate child" – was released days later following a legal
appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her freedom.
But several months on, Tokyo police arrested her again for
distributing "obscene" items – displaying decorated plaster figures
moulded in the shape of her genitals and sending and selling CD-ROMs containing
the computer code.
On Monday, the court convicted Igarashi for distributing material
that was deemed obscene.
Igarashi and her supporters scoffed at the fact her genitals were
the focus of a court case.
"I am innocent because neither the data for female genitals
nor my art works shaped like female genitals are obscene," she told the
court last year.
Prosecutors, who did not ask for jail time, had called for
Igarashi to be fined 800 000 yen.
Japan's prolific pornography industry caters to all imaginable
tastes, but tough obscenity laws ban the showing of actual genitalia, which
normally appear pixellated or blacked out.
Images of male and female genitals can be found throughout the
Last month, revellers carried giant phalluses through the streets
of Kawasaki, near Tokyo, to worship the penis and pray for fertility in an