A French court has ruled that posters showing a woman tied to train tracks did not promote violence against women.
The posters were put up around the town of Béziers last December to celebrate the arrival of high-speed TGV trains. They carried the caption: “With the TGV, she would have suffered less.”
The ads faced a legal challenge from a number of feminist groups and criticism by France’s equality minister.
But the court said they were legal, despite the questionable humour.
The posters were launched four months after 34-year-old Emilie Hallouin died when she was tied to TGV tracks by her husband and hit by a train in a murder-suicide in northern France.
Many Twitter users, including French Senator Laurence Rossignol, drew parallels between the posters and the tragic news story.
A local Socialist politician called the ads “odious”.
But the far-right mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, defended his campaign, accusing critics of “political correctness” and pointing to a history of such images in old films and cartoons.
The court in the southern city of Montpellier said the posters had been designed to provoke a reaction, and did not encourage violence against any specific group, including women.
After the French court threw out the complaint, Mr Ménard tweeted that the case had been “an inquisition in petticoats”.
Béziers train poster: French court clears controversial ad