An Indian fashion photographer has sparked controversy on social media after posting photographs depicting a woman in designer clothes being assaulted by a group of men on a bus.
Raj Shetye, whose “The Wrong Turn” series imitates the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus, has defended his photos in an interview with The Huffington Post.
He says that the purpose of the fashion shoot was to raise awareness about the issue of female safety in India.
"It is not based on Nirbhaya,” the Mumbai-based photographer told BuzzFeed.
Shetye added that "This is in no way meant to glamorise the act, which was very bad. It’s just a way of throwing light on it.”
He also clarified why the clothes worn by the models were made by high-end designers, whose names were omitted on purpose.
“The message I would like to give is that it doesn’t matter who the girl is,” he said. “It doesn’t depend on which class she belonged in — it can happen to anyone.
“We stay in a society where rich people roam in cars, and poor people who roam in public transport are in danger,” he added. “It was my intent to mix these two things which are pretty apart from each other and make aesthetically strong images about it.”
Shetye’s photos have caused outrage on social media in India, with some saying the series is “disgusting” and “insensitive.”
So this person thought it was okay to do a 'glamour shoot' on Nirbhaya's story. https://t.co/BPRYpT9ERK Disgusting and how.
— Moggy. (@Highheelswaali) August 2, 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
'Nirbhaya' Gang rape themed fashion shoot!!! Really BAD judgement from whoever thought its cool.
— Nachiket Barve (@nachiketbarve) August 5, 2014
Rape is not inspiration for a fashion shoot.I don't know what the photographer was thinking doing an editorial shoot inspired by 'Nirbhaya'
— Amrita Puri (@_Amrita_Puri) August 5, 2014
According to BuzzFeed, the pictures have been deleted from Shetye’s online portfolio on Behance after the backlash.