Swedish women shed bikini tops in pool campaign

STOCKHOLM, Nov 13, 2007 (AFP) - Decades after some women cast aside their bras as an act of feminist radicalism, a group of Swedish women have launched a campaign to go topless in local swimming pools.


A group of Swedish women have launched a campaign to go topless in local swimming pools - Photo : ANP/AFP

The Bara Brost (Bare Breast) campaign began two months ago in the south of the country, one of the campaigners, Astrid Hellroth, told AFP.

Already about 50 women supported the campaign, she said, and a vanguard of 15 women had started direct action, swimming topless in local pools.

"Our aim is to start a debate about the unwritten social and cultural rules that sexualize and discriminate against the female body," said Hellroth, a 21-year-old student.

They also had a blog, she added: barabrost.blogg.se. Their site links to a Canadian sister organisation, the Topfree Equal Rights Association.

"It's important that women have the same rights as men," said another campaigner, 22-year-old Ragnhild Karlsson.

"When you say we are more attractive topless, we say men should not be able to abuse women because they are topless."

The new campaign has been closely followed by the Swedish sex education journal, Ottar.

It recorded the launch of the campaign in September in Uppsala, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Stockholm, when two young women left their bikini tops in the dressing room.

When the lifeguard at the leisure centre challenged them, they refused to cover up and were told to leave the premises.

"Swimming pools generally require men to wear swimming trunks, and women to wear either bikinis or one piece swimsuits," Inger Grotteblad, a spokesman for the Uppsala leisure centre told the online newspaper The Local.

"There are three reasons for this. First, there is a security aspect, then there is a hygiene issue and finally there is what we call 'prevailing manners and customs'."

In October, the campaign switched to a swimming pool in the southern town of Malmo, The Local reported. But here again, health and safety prevailed.

Another attempt in the southern town of Lund also failed.

This month the local ombudsman will decide whether or not to mediate in the matter.

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