Fashion photos evoking Delhi gang rape spark outrage on social media

by Maria Caspani | | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 6 August 2014 20:09 GMT

Credit: Raj Shetye/via BBC

Image Caption and Rights Information
Photographer denies any connection to infamous crime but photos removed from website

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A fashion photo shoot, seen as an attempt to glamourise the infamous 2012 gang rape on a Delhi bus, caused such outrage on social media that it was removed from a website, according to media reports.

Mumbai-based photographer Raj Shetye shot the photo feature, titled “The Wrong Turn,” on what appears to be a bus.  One image depicts a model as she struggles to break free from two men apparently restraining and groping her and another shows the same model seemingly being sexually harassed by two men.

“Sensationalist and cheap gimmick,” and “Beyond disgusting,” were among the angry tweets sent out by users around the world in response to Shetye’s work, which was uploaded to Behance, a creative visual arts and design site, some days ago.

 Contacted by the media, Shetye denied the photos had anything to do with the brutal December 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi. That incident, reported globally, led to thousands taking to the streets of Indian cities to protest growing violence against women in the largely patriarchal and conservative nation.

Shetye told BuzzFeed on Tuesday that his work was “not based on Nirbhaya." The pseudonym  given to the rape victim, Nirbhaya means ‘fearless’ in Hindi.

"But being a part of society and being a photographer, that topic moves me from inside... I stay in a society where my mother, my girlfriend, my sister are out there and something like this can happen to them also," he said.

Reports of crimes against women in India, such as rape, dowry deaths, abduction and molestation, increased by nearly 27 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to government statistics.

Police attribute the rise in reports to more women coming forward due to greater public awareness of such crimes following the 2012 case for which four men were sentenced to death and a fifth man, a juvenile at the time of the crime, received a three-year prison sentence.

India introduced tough new anti-rape laws in the wake of the incident.

(Editing by Lisa Anderson:

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