“She was wearing provocative clothes”, “Her clothes asked for it”, “It was her fault” — as if rape and molestation is not enough, rape survivors have to deal with bitter comments from people who shame them for no fault of their own.
Giving a befitting reply to such detractors, a Mumbai-based photography service, AIE has come up with a series of art works titled ‘Never asked for it’. They have illustrated some popular molestation and rape cases through their works in which the person is represented in the clothes he or she was wearing at the time. The illustrations are accompanied by the location of the crime and age of victims — details that highlight that it is never the victim’s fault.
Divya Agrawal, co-founder, says, “The victim has already been through hell. But our society still blames the victim instead of the culprit. Comments like “what was she wearing” are like third degree torture. Through our illustrations, we are making a point that it’s not the victim’s fault, it doesn’t matter what she/he was wearing. Even arguments like “why did they go to that area” make no sense because a rape happens because someone rapes! It’s a crime and the culprit should be held guilty.”
The artists have also illustrated Ranveer Singh, who had revealed that he, too, faced the casting couch.
A graduate of IIT Roorkee, Agrawal used to be a civil engineer but turned full-time photographer. It took the team six days to finish these illustrations. “We studied different rape and molestation cases, age groups and locations and realised that age or clothes don’t matter to a rapist.. It happened to a 2-year-old, a Bollywood star and an old lady. It is just one’s mentality,” she says. “For some cases, we didn’t know what clothes the victims wore, so we used our research to visualise them. But did it matter? No. Their clothes don’t justify rape.. nothing does.”
To reach out to a greater audience, the illustrations were posted on social media. “The Bangalore incident was a catalyst. We had been meaning to do something for a long time and after this incident, we came up with this project. We are hoping it will create an impact,” says Agrawal.