Lingerie falls foul of hardline Indian Hindus

BHOPAL, India (AFP) — A right-wing Hindu group in a central Indian city has given shopkeepers an ultimatum to remove raunchy lingerie advertisements and mannequins that display underwear in public.


Photo: AFP

Activists of the Sanskriti Bachao Manch (Save the Culture Forum), a hardline Hindu organisation in Madhya Pradesh's capital city, Bhopal, have threatened to seize and burn any visible knickers or bras on Monday 18 January.

"Three days from now if undergarments are still hanging outside, we will light a bonfire of the lingerie," the forum's leader Chandra Shekhar Tiwar told AFP on Friday 15 January.

"No hanging of underwear in public," he added.

The group said in its first warning to shopkeepers on Wednesday 13 January that they should keep lingerie in boxes and only show this to customers when they asked.

On Thursday 14 January, members of the group tore down posters advertising coffee-flavoured condoms and sexual-dysfunction therapy centres as part of their campaign to protect "traditional Indian values."

They also asked cinema owners not to put up posters of film stars in "offensive" clothes and postures.

On Monday 11 January, the state's chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the Hindu BJP party, also ordered municipal authorities across the state to remove the advertising hoardings of a spa massage centre.

A police case was registered against the spa owner for displaying what the chief minister called "obscene" advertising displaying a woman's bare back.

Reacting to Sanskriti Bachao Manch's ultimatum, Guddan, a lingerie shop owner in Bhopal, said the advertising that fell foul of the hardliners was provided by the underwear makers who asked shopowners to display it.

He said he would have to comply with the demands, however.

"I have no option but to follow the moral police force as we are here to do business," he said.

Advertising of underwear, contraception and sexually charged Bollywoood films is commonplace in major Indian cities, but attitudes to sex remain conservative by Western standards, particularly in rural and provincial areas.

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