Vagina artist found guilty of obscenity in Japan

May 11, 2016

Megumi Igarashi has been praised for challenging Japanese perceptions of female sexuality

Yokishazu Tsuno/Getty

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi with her vagina mascot

A Japanese court has found an artist guilty of obscenity after she posted scans of her vagina online to allow people to create 3D-printed models of it.

Megumi Igarashi, who goes by the name of Rokudenashiko, or "good-for-nothing girl", was fined 400,000 yen (£2,575) for distributing the images after a judge ruled they "realistically reproduce the shape [of the genitalia] and stimulate the viewers' sexual desire".

She was cleared of creating a kayak sculpture modelled on her genitalia, as well as a small vagina-shaped figure decorated with fake fur and glitter.

Igarashi has vowed to appeal the charge. "I believe I'm innocent. I'll fight until the end," Igarashi told Japan Today.

She was arrested and briefly jailed in 2014 after the kayak sculpture was displayed at a sex shop in Tokyo.

Her arrest sparked a nationwide debate about feminism and artistic rights in which she was widely praised for challenging perceptions of female sexuality.

"This shows that Japan is still very backwards about women's sexual expression," Igarashi said at the time. "It is not acknowledged at all except as something for men's pleasure."

Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of Japanese authorities in arresting Igarashi while allowing traditional fertility festivals that parade giant models of erect penises in the streets, as well as the country's booming porn industry.

Others note the contradiction between the country's strict obscenity laws and the fact that possession of child abuse images was only made illegal in 2014 and they still feature in manga.

"How can it be OK for comics to publish underage pornography but illegal to invite people to 3D scan your vagina?" Jonathan Jones asks in The Guardian.

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