Conventionally, many dildos are shaped like a human penis with varying degrees of detail; others are made to resemble the phallus of animals. Not all, however, are fashioned to reproduce the male anatomy meticulously, and dildos come in a wide variety of shapes. They may resemble figures, or simply be practical creations which stimulate more easily than conventional designs. In Japan, many dildos are created to resemble animals or cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty, so that they may be sold as conventional toys, thus avoiding obscenity laws. Some dildos have textured surfaces to enhance sexual pleasure, and others have macrophallic dimensions including over a dozen inches long.[2]

By the 1980s, purges of the police force along with new and tighter licensing controls by the City of Westminster led to a crackdown on illegal premises in Soho. In the early 1990s, London's Hackney council sought to shut down Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium, because they did not have a licence. Sh! took the council to court and consequently won the right to remain open as there were no sufficient reasons for the closure. In 2003 the Ann Summers chain of lingerie and sex toy shops won the right to advertise for shop assistants in Job Centres, which was originally banned under restrictions on what advertising could be carried out by the sex industry.[13] In 2007, a Northern Ireland sex shop was denied a licence by the Belfast City Council. The shop appealed and won, but this was overturned by the House of Lords.[14] Sexshop
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