TOUGH new regulations on body piercings are needed to curb piercings on children that occur without the knowledge of parents, a state MP has warned.
Liberal MP David Hodgett has called for an immediate overhaul of body piercing laws in Victoria. He wants strict guidelines that force children to have parental consent before they can have any part of their body pierced, including ears.
“Currently there is an age limit for tattooing, and it is an offence to tattoo someone under the age of 18,” Mr Hodgett told State Parliament.
“However, the same does not apply to skin-penetration procedures such as body piercing, except for the piercing of the genital area in both males and females.”
Mr Hodgett will write to the Health Minister and Attorney-General tomorrow, requesting laws that require people under the age of 18 to have parental consent before any body piercing is performed.
Mr Hodgett said that while earlobe piercing was not of great concern, all piercings for people under the age of 18 should have parental consent.
“While we are not trying to be too restrictive on earlobe piercing, it seems a lot simpler to say anyone who is a minor should have parental consent before they have body piercing,” he said.
Tim Pigot, spokesman for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike, said the Government would talk to police about whether laws relating to body piercing for minors needed to be tightened.
“There are existing guidelines that govern genital piercings that require consent for minors and refer operators to the relevant sections of the Crimes Act,” he said.
“However, there are complex legal issues surrounding genital piercings of minors, and we will discuss these with police to determine whether existing tattoo and piercing laws need to be expanded.”
Mr Hodgett said some people in the industry “did the right thing” when it came to body piercing and minors but said mandatory legislation was required.
“I call for legislation requiring mandatory parental consent for minors wishing to have body piercing, as is the case in NSW,” he said.
“Legislation would flush out the operators who do not apply restrictions and ensure that children are protected from the risk of serious infection, scarring and other health implications.”
He said parental consent would ensure parents were involved in the decision-making process. “It can prevent spur-of-the moment decisions, and it can reduce peer pressure,” Mr Hodgett said.
Two child-abuse survivors act out their rage on each other.
THAT bad boy of Japanese literature, Ryu Murakami, wants Japan to embrace Western individualism — to reject “blind” obsequiousness and instead act on personal judgment for the betterment of self and community. In Japan, where the word for “different” often means “wrong,” Western individualism gets lost in translation. But as traditional Japanese society crumbles, so do traditional conceptions of identity. Perhaps this is why Murakami’s novels so often explore the abandoned, abused and dispossessed: They represent, in microcosm, Japan’s cultural crisis. Set adrift, his characters must confront themselves as individuals. In his novel “Piercing,” now published in English, two child-abuse survivors confront how their bodies and souls have been pierced, and more crucially, how their survival strategies threaten to sever them from humanity.
“Piercing” could easily fall into cliché. Its saving grace is Murakami’s masterful use of third-person perspective. The 1994 novel opens with Kawashima Masayuki, a talented graphic designer, loving father and doting husband who is haunted by horrific childhood abuse. His mother used to pry open his eyelids and hold lighted cigarettes near them; she tied him to water pipes, stabbed his arms and legs with pencils and hit him with milk bottles. Kawashima is hovering over his sleeping infant daughter, admiring her exposed neck and chest — “whiter and softer even than the bread” that his wife, Yoko, bakes. He feels compelled to stab his baby with an ice pick.
A lesser author might have chosen to write in the first person. But that would be too intimate, too much like a confession. Kawashima would never allow that kind of access. Yet the distance feels almost perversely close, more honest. This, after all, is how Kawashima experiences himself: After touching his baby’s cheek with the ice pick, he flees his apartment and heads to a convenience store, where he feels a familiar sensation, “as if he’d separated from his own body and was waiting a short distance away.” As a child, he used this tactic, separating from himself as his body endured beatings. Now, he decides he must stab a woman with an ice pick — as he stabbed a girlfriend long ago — to relieve his sick compulsion. This woman, he later decides, should be a prostitute. He will slice her Achilles tendons first, while she is alive. Given the brutality of the fantasy, one questions Kawashima’s reliability; he could be a serial murderer. But an unreliable third-person narrator? The amplified sense of alienation raises the hair on your neck.
We meet Chiaki, the prostitute, in the third person as well. Here again, we feel intimacy through distance. This sexual abuse survivor gulps down sedatives, cuts her thighs with a Swiss Army knife and has pierced her own nipple. She recalls guiding a gym teacher’s hand into her underwear once, thinking that is what men like. She hears a voice — called “you-know-who” — and has multiple selves. Her character borders on psychological stereotype. But as with Kawashima, the arm’s-length perspective reveals the depth of her alienation.
When Kawashima and Chiaki finally meet in a hotel room, the story slips seamlessly back and forth between each one’s perspective. But this should not be confused with an omniscient narrator: There is no outside voice, no exposition to suture these two vantages. They don’t share experiences so much as distort them through their own warped lenses.
Given that Murakami urges individualism, one wonders about this alienation — the deadliest side effect of Western culture. But this is the point: When individualism gets lost in translation, it develops pathologically, unbridled, unchecked. There is a moment when others could have intervened — when Chiaki screams so loudly she disturbs fellow hotel guests and a desk clerk calls to check on them. The call is only halfhearted. Kawashima and Chiaki, as usual, are left to their own devices.
After a gruesome, Tarantino-worthy battle, Chiaki feels connected to her would-be killer. Kawashima isn’t like any man she’s ever known. She senses his alienation and doesn’t want him to return to his wife. She wonders whether she secretly wants to be stabbed. And he realizes that he became one with his mother when he put the ice pick to Chiaki’s belly. But what does this connection mean? Chiaki offers a kind of solution, piercing her other nipple as he watches — laying pain bare. Whether the cycle of abuser and abused continues remains ambiguous. But their shared alienation feels like a new survival strategy.
Background checks for tattoo artists and those who perform tongue and genital piercings will be up for discussion Tuesday during the Teton County Public Health board meeting.
At its March meeting, the board introduced a draft of possible rules it was considering to regulate tattoo and piercings businesses in the county.
Several artists and the owner of Jackson business Sub-Urban Tattoo were there to applaud efforts to keep the industry safe but also offer criticism about several proposed rules, including banning tongue and genital piercings and requiring background checks for artists. They said the piercings could be done in a safe way and should be allowed for consenting adults and that background checks were discriminatory because they aren’t required of other industries, such as restaurants.
All of the recommendations were recorded and will be looked at individually during Tuesday’s meeting, Public Health Manager Terri Gregory said.
She expects the board will discuss each recommendation and vote whether to add it to the document that will make up the regulations. Gregory said the final vote to approve the regulations probably won’t happen until the board’s May meeting because there are so many comments to consider and that with amendments to the original drafted rules there probably will be significant changes.
The board meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the Public Health building.
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