One of the most sensitive issues in our country today is sexual violence and rape against women. This has always been in one of the most highlighted and discussed topics among the feminists, women activists, in discussions and debates on social issues, in political debates and of course, the media and online social media. However, can anyone imagine the theme “rape” as a subject of design in the fashion world?
Well, anything can happen in India. The latest buzz is the photographs published for a fashion shoot by Mumbai-based photographer Raj Shetye, based on sexual abuse on women. Titled “The Wrong Turn,” the photographs show few men inside a bus, grabbing and goggling a woman dressed in an evening wear. The male models are shown touching the various body parts of the female model, while the female model is shown giving a distressed expression in her face. In one photograph, the female model is on the floor of the bus and a male model is standing over her. There is another photograph which shows the model trying to get away from the clutches of the two male models holding her arms. Being shot inside the bus, it is clearly evident that this fashion shoot is an off shoot of the “23-year-old Nirbhaya gang rape case” in a bus, two years back in Delhi. However, as per Raj Shetye, this has nothing related to the Nirbhaya case but it is a depiction of the situation faced by Indian women today. According to him, he simply wanted to raise awareness on the rape issue in India.
“Wah Mr. Shetye!!! Thank you so much. We were not really aware of the situation of women in India. You have just opened our eyes through your photo shoot. What an idea sirjee!!!”
Really, it is a matter of great disgrace and shame that such a sensitive issue has been portrayed in the world of fashion. And do you think such an act will actually do any justice to the issue of sexual abuse? No! Never! Rape cannot be glamourised. Only a woman who goes through this knows what she has gone through. We as individuals can simple feel pity for the girl. So how can any person consider a “rape” as a theme for a fashion shoot?
Raj Shetya, however, has his share of limelight and this serves his purpose. Nobody knew him till yesterday and today he has become India’s most talked-about fashion photographer. But at the cost of India men sexuality. The photographs have been severely criticised in India as well as abroad. You cannot glamourise a rape scene.
Fashion and Social Issues
However, this is not the first time that a sensitive topic has been taken as a fashion subject. There was this ad in 2007 by Dolce & Gabbana, which clearly depicted women rape and gay rape. This ad which actually promoted Dolce & Gabbana’s spring-summer 2007 collections, appeared in various Italian magazines and later was banned by the Advertising Self-Discipline Institute (IAP). In 2008, a fashion magazine featured fashion models with luxury goods but with poverty as the back drop. It had the image of a barefooted model carrying a Burberry umbrella. The fashion photographer admitted that this image was to show the face of “real India”. Vogue Italia also had featured images of models in a rehab centre. There was this Calvin Klein jean campaign featuring Lara Stone being surrounded by few hot models, connoting gang rape in 2010. This ad was also banned by the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia. There has been quite some instances in which fashion houses make social issues their subject themes. Maybe Raj Shetya took inspiration from his foreign counterparts.
Some Innovative Fashion Accessories to Prevent Rape
- An American company has launched the anti-rape underwear. This is a lockable underwear made of thick and strong material, that cannot be cut even with scissors.
- NIFT Kolkata’s students have designed an anti-molestation jacket.
- In South Africa, there is distribution of female condoms with teeth.
- The most common self-defense product, the pepper spray, has been designed into a bracelet by an Indian girl from Ranchi in Jharkhand.
- We have also heard about undergarments with camera and GPS developed by a young lady in Bihar.
- Another innovative design is a shock watch device, which gives an electric shock when it strikes against another person etc.
Well, whatsoever, there is no connection between expensive clothes and social evils. All we can say is that rapists are heartless animals, their minds filled with filth and they are sexually starved. It’s no point raising the awareness of rape issue through fashion. But, as we say, prevention is better than cure. If the fashion world cares so much for the women in India, then it is high time new accessories, unique clothing, anti rape products should come up in the market to protect women and prevent women from being raped.