Indian photoshoot echoing gang rape sparks outrage
An Indian photographer has sparked outrage with a fashion shoot showing a woman being assaulted on a bus, echoing a fatal gang-rape that shocked the nation.
The project by Mr Raj Shetye called The Wrong Turn appeared in his online portfolio in recent days before being taken down, according to media reports on Wednesday.
The photos show a female model dressed in high-end fashion garments being groped on a bus by a group of stylishly-dressed men.
Mumbai-based Mr Shetye told Buzzfeed that the shoot was not based on the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.
“But being a part of society and being a photographer, that topic moves me from inside,” he said. “I stay in a society where my mother, my girlfriend, my sister are out there and something like this can happen to them also.”
But many saw parallels between the shoot and the case, and took to social media to express their outrage. Twitter users described the images as “shocking", “disgusting” and “mind boggling”.
In the 2012 incident, a gang of six rape a 23-year-old physiotherapy student after she was tricked into boarding a private bus on the way home from the cinema with a male friend.
The woman died 13 days after the attack from her injuries, after being airlifted to a Singapore hospital for specialist treatment.
The attack sparked outrage across India over levels of sexual violence against women and led to tougher laws to deter rapists.
“This is in no way meant to glamorise the act, which was very bad,” Mr Shetye told BuzzFeed by telephone. “It’s just a way of throwing light on it.”
Ms Nirmala Samant, chairman of the National Commission for Women, has written to Mumbai’s chief of police calling for an investigation over the photographs.
“Any person with common sense will understand this is nothing but glorifying of violence,” Ms Samant told AFP. “I’m of the strong opinion that there should be some legal action because this is not artistic freedom, certainly not.”
Mr Shetye issued a statement in defence of his work, saying he had “tried to express myself through the medium I know best” and that the controversy was based on misinterpretation.
“The aim is purely to create art that will garner public opinion about issues that concern women,” he said. “It breaks my heart to see my mother, my friends, my sister constraining themselves professionally and personally just to be safe.”
He said the clothes’ designers had not been credited as the shoot was not for commercial gain.
Source: AFP, BuzzFeed