MIA MARTIN WRITES – A Japanese artist has pleaded not guilty to obscenity charges for allegedly selling 3D images of her vagina.

Megumi Igarashi, 43, doesn’t deny she distributed the material, but in the trial that got underway this week insisted it’s not obscene. Instead, Igarashi, aka Rokudenashiko (“good for nothing girl” or “absurd girl”), says it’s art, part of something she calls “Vagina Selfies” meant to “demystify the vagina” for Japanese society

So far her project has depicted the vagina in the form of a yellow kayak boat, as a charm bracelet, and as a small landscape model rebuilt as a grassed neighborhood.

Her arrest and trial occurred in a country that holds a yearly penis festival, where male genetalia is celebrated and penis art is widely exhibited for all to see, and is extremely hypocritical.  In addition to this, Japan also has a thriving pornography industry.  There is clear line drawn between how men and women are treated by their own society and how laws can be used to target women who may or may not be creating art.

The DailyMail quoted Igarashi, who expands on this problem in Japanese culture.  “Manko (vagina), have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture,” she stated.

She continued, “But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”

Igarashi’s arrest has drawn national outcry from young women, as well as worldwide support, with many criticizing the Japanese government and demanding that the charges to be dropped. Trending hashtags on twitter, such as  #Freemegumi and #Rokudenashiko, include both Japanese and foreigners who have spoken out against despicable double standards and blatant sexism in the Japanese legal system. Igarashi supporters feel that it is unconstitutional to arrest her for art that is clearly not created for the purpose of sexual arousal. An online petition on Change.org has also been started and has drawn over 5,400 signatures.

Igarashi will not stand down and plans to appeal to the Japanese Supreme court to have these charges dropped. Kazuyuki Minami, Igarashi’s lawyer, was quoted as saying “These arrests are unjust,” and doesn’t feel she should have been detained or prosecuted to begin with. If found guilty, Igarashi could face up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of 2.5m yen (£14,200) for distributing obscene objects.