Sex doll gift blows up into scandal for Chile minister

A Twitter storm blew up Wednesday in Chile over a business association's Christmas gift to the economy minister: an inflatable sex doll "to stimulate the economy."

The X-rated doll was a gift from the Association of Manufacturing and Services Exporters (Asexma) to Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes at its annual dinner Tuesday night.

The association, which gathers the chief executives of some of Chile's leading companies, traditionally gives offbeat gifts to cabinet members at its Christmas dinner.

But this one did not go down well with Cespedes's boss, Michelle Bachelet, Chile's first woman president.

"What happened at the Asexma dinner cannot be tolerated," she wrote on Twitter.

"The struggle for respect for all women has been a guiding principle of my two administrations."

Other Chileans joined in slamming the gift as distasteful in a country troubled by high rates of gender violence.

As in many Latin American countries, growing numbers of demonstrators have taken to the streets in Chile over recent months to protest brutal episodes of violence against women and what activists call a culture of machismo.

The gift doll had a card taped across its mouth that read "to stimulate the economy."

Cespedes, who is working to do just that in the face of a sharp slowdown, was captured on camera accepting the gift with a wide smile.

But he apologized at a press conference Wednesday.

"I was taken by surprise and my reaction was not appropriate," he said.

Asexma's president, Roberto Fantuzzi, said the group meant no harm.

"I have a wife, daughters and granddaughters. I never meant to cause violence against women," he said on Twitter.

Topics: Chile , gender , politics , economy , offbeat
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