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#FreeTheNipple: Topless Protest Against Internet Censorship Follows Scout Willis Instagram Challenge (NSFW PICTURES)

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Women have bared their breasts in New York to protest against internet censorship.

The #FreeTheNipple movement hit the headlines last week when Scout Willis strolled through Manhattan's East Village bare-chested.

The daughter of Hollywood scions Bruce Willis and Demi Moore tweeted pictures of her stunt using the hashtag.

Scroll down for more images from the protest
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#FreeTheNipple: A topless protest took place in New York on Sunday

She was protesting against Instagram’s policy of not featuring female nudity.

Actress-turned filmmaker Lina Esco is the creator of the hashtag as well as the soon-to-be-released film of the same name.

She enlisted around 20 men and women in New York’s Washington Square Park to bare their nipples and hand out stickers on Sunday.

SEE ALSO: Of Breasts & Books: Welcome To The NYC Topless Reading Club (NSFW PICTURES)

Esco said: "What we are trying to do is not about nipples – ‘free the nipple’ is our Trojan horse, but it's about the bigger issues, the things that affect us daily and in the long run.

"We are in no way encouraging anyone to walk around naked.

"It's not about sitting at the cafe with a glass of wine and no shirt on - it's about the fact that a woman cannot sunbathe without her shirt on next to a man that has every right to do so.

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"It's about a woman breast feeding her child in public and most likely being shamed for doing so.

"It's incredible that Instagram approves of imagery that sells automatic weapons that could potentially murder dozens of people, but they won't allow a non-sexual image of a woman walking in New York City with her shirt off where she has every legal right to do so.

"We started this with our scripted feature film which tells the story of a young women in New York City protesting topless to bring awareness to the extreme lack of balance in our culture where violence is glorified and the female body is still lewd and offensive.”

Not everyone was enamoured though. Karina Kushnerik, 39, was visiting the park with her three children.

She said: “I think it's completely ridiculous - I have four kids here and my youngest daughter is seven - they shouldn't have to see this.

"I understand what they are protesting about and they are right - things need to change - but this isn't the way to go about it."

The group took their protest to Chelsea where they posed topless in front of the Freedom Tower before heading to Midtown to gather in front of the iconic Flatiron and Empire State Buildings.

As for Scout, she composed a 7,000 word essay on XO Jane on Monday to explain why she took part.

She said: “Instagram had recently deleted my account over what they called instances of abuse.

“Which in reality amounted to a photo of myself in a sheer top and a post of a jacket I made featuring a picture of two close friends topless.

“What began as a challenge to Instagram and its prejudiced community guidelines became an opportunity for dialogue.

“Matters like the taboo of the nipple in the 21st century, public breastfeeding, slut shaming, fat shaming, breast cancer awareness, body positivity, gender inequality, and censorship have found their way into mainstream discussion.

“My situation was in no way unique, women are regularly kicked off Instagram for posting photos with any portion of the areola exposed, while photos sans nipple - degrading as they might be - remain unchallenged.”

Esco was delighted by Scout's protest. She added: “She is a big supporter. She’s known about it for a long time, she’s a friend and it really hits close to home for her.

“Scout has pretty much started the conversation again. You know we’ve been trying to sell the movie and trying to finish it and then all of a sudden she came around and did this you know because she had been censored in a big way and she just had to speak up and talked about free the nipple and it helped us a lot.”

Despite being arrested on a number of occasions Esco will continue to protest and promote her film.

“I really hope that this campaign will change the hearts and minds of people," she added.

“The boob or the nipple is the first thing you see when you’re born, it’s the thing you depend on, it’s the first thing that nourishes us, at what point did it become an obscene thing.

“An average American child sees over 200,000 violent acts including 16,000 murders on television by the age of 18.

“But that’s cool so long as they don’t see a nipple on Facebook or Instagram.

“It’s ridiculous and things need to change.“

It is legal to bare your breasts in public in New York City, thanks to a 1992 court decision to reverse laws punishing it because they violated the city’s equal protection clauses.

Laws vary across the States.