By Umberto Bacchi
TBILISI, Sept 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Kazakh magazine has had to apologise after a fashion spread showing models posing as murder victims sparked fury, with critics saying the images eroticised violence against women.
The spread in Buro 24/7 Kazakhstan showed a girl in a black dress lying lifeless near a bloodied knife with her hand tied to a water pipe and a woman sprawling motionless on a bed as forensic scientists put her stiletto shoes in a plastic bag.
The online-only magazine said the fashion spread had been inspired by recent hit movies about the infamous U.S. killers Charles Manson and Ted Bundy.
But readers saw it differently, in a country where women's rights groups say gender-based violence remains widespread.
"These photos only romanticize violence against women, causing disgust and fear," wrote Instagram user droyaronok.
"I always wanted to dress like a dead girl," commented user mari.mussakhanova.
On Tuesday, Buro 24/7's publishers took the pictures offline and issued an apology, but it denied the shoot glamorised violence.
"We understand that this photo material is sensitive, and we apologise for the possible impression it could have made," the magazine's publishers said in a statement on social media.
They declined to respond to a request for further comment.
H&M, the fashion brand whose clothes were used in the spread, said it had no involvement in the initiative beyond lending the magazine clothes and had not known about the shoot's theme.
"It should be noted that H&M is strongly opposed to the romanticization of violence," Artur Kasimov, a spokesman for H&M Russia told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.
About one in five Kazakh women has suffered violence at the hands of a partner at least once in her lifetime, according to 2018 United Nations survey.
Jacqui Hunt, director of Equality Now's Europe and Central Asia office, said violence against women and girls in Kazakhstan would continue unless attitudes that normalised it changed.
"The fashion industry should be producing advertising that fosters respect, safety and empowerment of women and girls, not featuring images and ideas that eroticise and legitimise gender-based violence," she said in an email. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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