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[Opinion] Prison Principles and Bras

Posted August. 21, 2008 06:31,   


Bras were made to replace corsets between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The French term of brassiere first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1911. Bras support breasts but feminists consider them a symbol of suppression. Feminists even say bras are "underwear to satisfy the expectations and sexual desire of men," and conduct a performance to burn bras.

Women wear bras for different reasons. The majority of Korean women do so for a better look. Some believe decent women should wear bras. Though some women argue bras cause backaches and shoulder pain, more women who wear bras say they feel comfortable. When women who usually wear bras take off their underwear, they feel uncomfortable. If women are pressured to take off their bras, they could feel shame and displeasure.

Certain media and human rights organizations have blamed police for violating human rights by forcing female protesters to take off their bras in jail. Reports say policewomen gave gowns to female protesters at the police station, let them wear gowns, and take off their bras by themselves. Policewomen put the bras in small baskets. Police should thoroughly do their duty to prevent an accident in a jail crowded with criminals.

According to the National Police Agency, suspects in custody cannot have dangerous stuff that include tools that could be used for suicide such as leather belts, neckties, and metals; materials that could cause accidents such as matches, cigarette lighters, tobacco and alcoholic beverages; and toxic chemicals and narcotics. Police manuals describe a woman who committed suicide by hanging herself with her bra, and have classified bras dangerous materials. Female suspects in the candlelight protests should not be discriminated against. At the same time, however, they should not expect special treatment. If principles on bras change depending on the suspect, police cannot maintain the principle of equity.

Editorial Writer Hwang Ho-taek (hthwang@donga.com)