Buenos Aires (AFP) - A sunny day at the beach took a bizarre twist in Argentina when some 20 police officers arrived to expel three topless women -- now the center of a national protest movement.
With summer in full swing in the southern hemisphere, the three Argentines had shed their tops to sunbathe last weekend at the beach in Necochea, a resort town 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Buenos Aires.
But local police in shorts and fluorescent vests arrived to tell them they were breaking public decency laws.
The women argued they were doing nothing wrong -- leading to an escalating row that drew in police reinforcements and a giant crowd of onlookers, some yelling at the women to get off the beach, others shouting their support.
Eventually, the women decided to leave what one of them called the "fascist beach."
A video of the standoff has now gone viral online -- stoking outrage among women's rights activists in a country known for machismo and high levels of violence against women.
Activists have called a topless women's march in support of the three women for Tuesday in the capital. They are calling the protest the "tetazo," which roughly translates as "breast smack."
A judge meanwhile dismissed the charges against the three women brought by a male beachgoer.
"A woman baring her breasts does not constitute an act that harms others, and is therefore outside the authority of the courts," local criminal court judge Mario Juliano ruled Wednesday.
He called on the police to be more "prudent."