Free the nipple: Brazilian bikini model Caroline Werner arrested for being topless in public

A Brazilian woman has blasted her country’s “double standards” after she was arrested for being naked from the waist up while walking her dog.

Bikini model Caroline Werner could face up to a year in jail for the stunt and has blasted her country’s “patriarchal, violent culture” for not allowing her to go topless because she is a woman.

The 37-year-old has called out Brazil’s laws and has asked why she should get into trouble for doing what a man could do without any issues.

The business owner claims she was “roughed up” by police and alleges she was chained to the bars of her prison cell after being seized by the Municipal Guard during her topless walk in Balneário Camboriú, a resort city in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.

“Unfortunately in my country, even though the Constitution ensures gender equality, in practice this does not happen,” Ms Werner told G1.

“I cannot have the same freedom and I feel coerced into doing so by this system and the repressive interpretation of the law.

“What should be natural for both genders ends up being denied to one of them in an arbitrary and repressive manner.”

Ms Werner explained that she decided to take her shirt off while walking her dogs as she made her way home from spending a day at the beach.

She was approached by several officers who ended up arresting her, loading her into a van and taking her to a police station, where she was given a blouse to cover her breasts.

The model also claimed that law enforcement had violated her due process rights by not allowing her to call any friends or a lawyer.

“When I arrived at the police station, they took me to a dark cell, where I was handcuffed to the cell railing, without the right to communicate with any family member, friend or lawyer,” she said.

“I spent more than an hour in that situation, unable to speak to anyone and, even though I had asked for, I was denied my right to speak to my lawyer several times.”

Ms Werner said that during all her travels around the world, she claims to have never encountered any issues going topless in public and was shocked to be detained for this in Brazil.

“In many countries, it is a completely normal practice,” she said. “A woman’s body is not objectified and hypersexualised.”

She received a summons for committing an obscene act and was released.

Article 233 of the Penal Code in Brazil describes the charge as “performing an obscene act in a public place, either open or exposed to the public,” however the law does not define what an “obscene act” is, according to G1.

She could face anywhere from three months to a year in prison if found guilty.

The Santa Catarina state prosecutor’s office is handling the case and has offered Ms Werner a plea deal.

However, she did not attend, with her lawyer claiming she was not notified of the hearing and had requested a new date.

Ms Werner blasted what she believes is her country’s “patriarchal, violent culture”.

“In the beginning it was very difficult, I had to move away from everything to re-establish myself,” she told G1.

“I was labelled crazy and I still am today because of the outdated mentality of many.

“I was exposed a lot by the videos that circulated on the internet. It’s very difficult to be a woman in our country.

“What happened to me, the abuse of authority and judgment by society, demonstrates how the interpretation of the law itself reflects gender conduct dictated by patriarchal, violent culture, in relation to the control of female bodies.”

This case echoes that of the Free the Nipple movement, instigated by US filmmaker, actor and activist Lina Esco in 2012 after she documented herself running through the streets of New York City topless.

She argued that the laws and social norms which treat female nudity as inherently sexual or obscene promote a double standard.

“Free the Nipple is just a Trojan horse in order to start the conversation of gender equality” she told Comedy Central in 2017.

“It’s not really about going topless. It’s about having the choice.”

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