Glossed out: glamour photos recreating December 16 gang-rape scrapped
Images of a glamorous woman being assaulted by men in a bus taken down from website after outrage on social networking websites. Photographer says his work intended to create awareness about crimes against women. Online critics don't take to this kindly.lifestyle Updated: Aug 06, 2014 08:19 IST
The photograph shows a glamourous woman struggling to get out of the clutches of two men in a bus. Another photograph in the same bus shows the woman pushing away two men. It's obvious what the images allude to: the gang-rape of a paramedic student on a moving bus in Delhi on December 16 two years ago.
The gang-rape shook up India; the protests against it almost threatened the government and it led to reforms in laws on crimes against women. It's a crime which still, two years later, troubles and shocks people.
That's the reason when photographer Raj Shetye's images from a photo shoot called 'The Wrong Turn' were published on the website Behance on July 26 the outrage on social media was immediate.
"It (the photo shoot) is not based on Nirbhaya," Shetye told Buzzfeed, referring to the fictitious name given to the Delhi gang-rape victim.
"I wanted to throw light on Indian patriarchy and a male dominated society. I actually was using the photoshoot to highlight women's empowerment and lack of safety in India. It's not true that I used the Nirbhaya incident to create awareness. This is my depiction of the current situation using a medium I know and can communicate well in. Consider this. I did with photography what a writer would do if he had to write about that incident," Shetye told IBNLive over phone.
Shetye allegedly defended himself against critics in this Facebook comment:
This is the official explanation by the photographer of the Nirbhaya shoot (Raj Shetye) as sent to a friend on FB. pic.twitter.com/qJveHT907K
— Suprateek Chatterjee (@SupraMario) August 5, 2014
However, the photos were taken down from Behance on Tuesday. Model-actor Jitin Gulati, one of the men who featured in 'The Wrong Turn' series, tweeted to say that photos weren't intended to glorify an "intolerable act like rape". He apologised, tweeting on Shetye's behalf too.
(1/3) This test shoot was done by Mr. Raj Shetge and the brief and intention was not even remotely to glorify an intolerable act like 'rape'— Jitin Gulati (@jitin0804) August 5, 2014
(2/3) I have removed these pictures from all public platform and the photographer has done the same. I sincerely apologise if this has..
— Jitin Gulati (@jitin0804) August 5, 2014
French photographer Fabien Charuau shared pictures of the photoshoot on his wall saying "This is so f*$#ing moronic". However, in the comment thread he wrote "In a twisted way, this series shows how photography is such a powerful communication tool. Unintended by the photographer, we have a strong depiction of the ills of our society: the complacency of the male population towards the plight of our women, and the physical domination and control of the women. (The shot where Pooja is on the bus floor between the pantless legs makes me retch) Pixels by pixels it's all there."
(3/3) hurt anyone's sentiments.
— Jitin Gulati (@jitin0804) August 5, 2014
Did the photos have a chance of creating awareness about crimes against women? People on social media clearly didn't think so.
Bollywood music director Vishal Dadlani tweeted: "Did i just see a fashion-spread depicting the Delhi gangrape of Nirbhaya? Disgusting!I hope all associated, die of shame! Insensitive swine!"
Here are few more reactions:
If until yesterday you hadn't heard of Raj Shetye but you know of him today, the object of his Nirbhaya photoshoot has been fulfilled.— Nigel Britto (@NigelBritto) August 5, 2014
Also, whosoever came up with the Nirbhaya gang rape based fashion shoot , I hope they die a slow death.— Schrödinger'sCat (@stuffednstarved) August 5, 2014
No dearth of morons, a fashion photo shoot 'inspired' by the Nirbhaya gang rape.How seriously we take rape & human dignity in this country.— Gayatri (@Gayatriwrites) August 5, 2014
Are we now glamourizing rape by doing a photoshoot inspired by Nirbhaya? My stomach just churned. https://t.co/OdtgMPG4ZP— Agratha Dinakaran (@Agratha) August 5, 2014
A Nirbhaya-inspired fashion shoot, themed: "Gangrape in a bus." CAN YOU BE MORE INSANE?? UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! https://t.co/jpfiD1sF2y— Aarti Madan (@AartiMadan) August 5, 2014