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Photographer sparks outrage for depicting Delhi gang rape in pictures

August 06, 2014 08:17 pm | Updated 08:19 pm IST - Mumbai

A Mumbai-based fashion photographer has sparked outrage after he released online a photo shoot that depicts a woman being harassed by a group of men on a bus, scenes that draw a strong semblance to the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape. 

Photographer Raj Shetye's photoshoot titled 'The Wrong Turn' led to a storm on social media as viewers criticized him for disrespecting the rape victim and accused him of trivializing the incident that led to a national outrage and raised a debate on women safety in India.

The photos depict a lone female model in high-end fashion trying to fend off the advances of a group of men on a bus. In one picture, the model is trying to escape the grasp of two men who are trying to pin her down on the back seat of the bus. Another image shows the model helplessly lying on the floor with a man standing over her, while in another she is seen jostling with two men.

Social media compared the images to scenes of the Delhi gang rape case.  Mr. Shetye, however, denied allegations that the photo shoot was based or inspired with the Delhi incident. 

He contended he was using his “art” to draw attention to the lack of women safety and women empowerment in the country.  “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,” Mr. Shetye told Buzzfeed

The photos were to highlight the “double standards” where people expect the "rich or well-heeled to dress well and travel in the luxury security and comfort of their own vehicle," he explained on Facebook.  Many criticized Mr. Shetye for choosing the bus as setting but he said the photo shoot was "intentionally done in a bus to make men think of what gives them the right to assume that well dressed women in public transport can be targets."

Following an outrage on social media Mr. Shetye pulled down the pictures but not before his work was tagged as “disgusting,”  “insensitive” and “outrageous.” 

Actor Purab Kohli tweeted: “appalled by this insensitivity. Hurts how we can trivialize such disasters of life, of human nature. Take it down.” Senior journalist Vinod Mehta also tweeted that Mr. Shetye “has done a sleazy photo-shoot to honour rape victim. Massive outrage on social media. #Shame.”

While the National Commission of Women has called for strict action against the photo shoot, Congress MP from Bihar Ranjeet Ranjan described the incident as disgusting and said she had given a notice in the Lok Sabha for discussion on the issue. Activist Abha Singh condemned the act saying it was “not only a national shame but also legally a crime.”

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