Crime & Justice

Japan’s top court upholds obscenity verdict against controversial artist

Tokyo, July 16 (efe-epa).- Controversial Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who was held guilty over six years on obscenity charges for creating objects modeled on her vagina, lost her final legal battle on Thursday in the Supreme Court that upheld her conviction.

Igarashi, 48, goes by the pseudonym “Rokudenashiko” (good-for-nothing girl).

She became famous as “vagina artist” after she was arrested on July 14, 2014, in a case that challenged the taboos of the conservative country.

She was detained for a week after she sent digital data meant to reproduce her vagina with a 3D-printer, which according to the prosecutors, violated a law that bans the distribution of “indecent material.”

The artist already used the practice of sending scans of her genitalia to collect funds for building a kayak, shaped like the female reproductive organ, as part of a crowdfunding campaign that generated around $10,000.

The sculptor and manga illustrator argued that she had only sent 3-D data to the donors, and not photos.

The artist after being released on bail following her first arrest told journalists that the vagina was an important part of a woman’s body and was related to things like menstruation and birth.

Her legal battle since then included the second detention after an exhibition of sculptures based on her genitals.

The trial began on Apr. 15, 2015, and she was ordered to pay a fine of 400,000 yen ($3,741) by a Tokyo court that declared that the data distributed by the artist “realistically reproduced” the shape of female genitalia and “stimulated the viewers’ sexual desire.”

The fine amount was half of the figure sought by the prosecutors.

However, Igarashi was unhappy, not so much by the amount of fine but over the basis of the decision.

She challenged it first in a higher court and finally in the top court of the country.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the sentence, although Igarashi’s defense argued during the hearing that her actions were part of “artistic activity,” local media reported.

Reacting to the judgment by the top court, Igarashi tweeted on Thursday that despite the guilty verdict, she had “a lot of fun” during the last six years.

“Why is it female genitals can be considered obscene, a taboo,” the artist said in comments released on her website after she learned of the “disappointing” verdict.

In a televised press conference later, she questioned whether the “old” and “male” judges knew “anything about art” and recounted the ordeal she went through since her first interrogation.

“Being interrogated by the prosecution official made me mentally stronger,” said the artist, who appeared wearing a mask that had the words “Prosecution, thank you” written on it in red. EFE-EPA

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