By Team FI
A fashion shoot which has striking similarities with the Delhi gang rape in 2012 has sparked outrage on social media and feminist circles in India. In his newly-released portfolio series named The Wrong Turn, Mumbai-based fashion photographer Raj Shetye features a woman on a bus being abused by several men.
In December 2012, a young woman who was later given the name Nirbahaya, was raped and brutally attacked by a group of men in a moving bus. The physiotherapy student died 13 days after the attack from her injuries. An outraged nation responded with protests and thousands poured into the streets of India’s capital city demanding an end to India’s rape culture. Following the outrage the government introduced stricter punishment for rape.
The photographer after he was vehemently criticized over glamorizing rape and sexual violence against women told the media that despite the reaction to his work, he was pleased that it has generated a discussion.
I’m shocked! After all the shouting and protesting, one guy goes and does this? First they shoot a woman in this set-up, and then make the rapists look glamorous! How can this be art?- Sapna Bhavnani, celebrity hairstylist who starred in the play Nirbhaya
“This is awful. But it must also be said that this isn’t the only instance of eroticizing rape. The print and electronic media also do it all the time, dwelling on verbal descriptions of details of sexual assault, and also on visual representations and reconstructions of such assault. Many movies, of course, have long eroticized rape. This ‘fashion shoot’ is takes that trend a few steps forward” states Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.
This is not the first time fashion photography glamorising violence against women in the name of art. In 2012, Magazine 12, a Bulgarian fashion magazine published a fashion series featuring female models who appeared bloodied, bruised and slashed. Despite outcry from women’s rights activists across the globe, the magazine editors refused to apologise stating the photos were not intended to glamorise domestic violence. In April this year Vogue Italia published a series of fashion photos that showed female models as victims of domestic abuse.