Titled Yahan Pehle Kand Hote Hain Or Phir Tamasha, the highlight is on the fact that women’s clothing do not contribute to sexual assault.
If you are dressed in revealing clothes, you’re asking for it — this unfortunate piece of unhelpful and judgemental advice is increasingly becoming commonplace in India. AIE, a photography start-up from Mumbai has taken exception to this advice, countering it with a series of hard-hitting photographs.
Titled Yahan Pehle Kand Hote Hain Or Phir Tamasha, the highlight is on the fact that women’s clothing do not contribute to sexual assault. In a series of 11 photographs, the team has chronicled instances of rape and molestation in India, highlighting what the women were wearing in each place.
The idea came about when AIE’s 23-year-old founder, Divya Agrawal, was brainstorming with her team for their next marketing campaign. The project, which was initially supposed to be a photo series on Mumbai changed its course when the Bengaluru mass molestation news appeared. “When the case came out in the open, we decided that we shouldn’t be showing the fancy and the good side of India, but should also do something about the ugly truth,” says the IIR-Roorkee graduate.
The start-up is a collective of 400 photographers across India, with the core team of three residing in Mumbai. It was this team that was involved in research and execution of the project, and Divya reveals it was an uphill task. “While researching on the number of rape and molestation cases, I was appalled to see that people on social media showed no compassion and under the garb of anonymity went on to say that how the victims were always at fault,” she sighs. “When the cases were reported, one usually doesn’t get into the details, but with this project, we had to read the details and I was shocked to know that about 90 per cent rape cases go unreported because the victim is pressurised to keep their identity under wraps fearing stigma and harassment later.”
The team, then, went on to conceptualise and execute the project in seven days. “We went to each of these places to click the pictures,” Divya reveals. “It was only as we started clicking pictures that the gravity of the situation set in. Those who think that it is the victim’s clothes that lead to such crimes, I pity their mentality; it’s the way they have been brought up I feel. Also, even if they might not believe that it is the clothes that lead to such crimes but they will still say it because people around them too are also saying so.”