Prosecutors on Wednesday charged a feminist artist who makes objects shaped like her vagina with distributing “obscene” data, according to her lawyer, in a case that has sparked accusations that authorities are out of touch.
The charges follow Megumi Igarashi’s arrest this month after she raised funds online to pay for a genital-shaped kayak that she made on a 3-D printer.
“We don’t agree with the prosecutors’ contention at all,” Takeshi Sumi, one of Igarashi’s lawyers, said. “We will continue pleading not guilty on behalf of Igarashi, who argues her works are not anything obscene.”
Igarashi, 42, was first arrested in July but was freed after several days following a legal appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her release.
But Tokyo police arrested her again this month — along with sex shop owner Minori Watanabe, 44, who is also a writer and feminist activist, for “displaying (Igarashi’s) obscene goods in her shop window.”
Watanabe, whose boutique is aimed at women, was later freed after prosecutors failed to persuade a judge to sanction extended questioning.
But the court approved Igarashi’s detention, as prosecutors said they feared she would destroy evidence if released, according to Sumi.
The present charges relate to three counts of distributing “obscene” data — namely CD-ROMs containing computer code for a 3-D printer that would allow users to make copies of the vagina-shaped kayak.
Obscenity laws ban pictures of actual genitalia, which normally are obscured in pornography.
If convicted, Igarashi could face up to two years behind bars and a fine of ¥2.5 million.