Well, if Raj Shetye was hoping to spark some controversy with his latest work, he got his wish (and then some).
The Mumbai-based fashion photographer is facing major backlash after his most recent photo shoot—depicting a woman being sexually harassed by numerous men on a bus—hit the Internet. Shetye posted (then took down) the photos, which he titled "The Wrong Turn," on his website, and people were instantly outraged.
But it wasn't just the fact that his spread was about an Indian woman fending off men's sexual advances, it was also because it seemed to glorify the tragic and fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.
Shetye denied that his work was depicting the incident (although there are numerous similarities), during an interview with BuzzFeed.
"But being a part of society and being a photographer, that topic moves me from inside," he continued. "I stay in a society where my mother, my girlfriend, my sister are out there and something like this can happen to them also."
He added, "Being a photographer, the only medium I can communicate in is photos. For me, its as simple as that. It's art. Making movies, writing articles, making a poem these are all ways of addressing the topic. Being a fashion photographer, this is what I can do best...This is in no way meant to glamorize the act, which was very bad," Shetye told BuzzFeed.
"It's just a way of throwing light on it."
In 2012, six men gang-raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy student after she was tricked into boarding a private bus on the way home from the cinema with a male friend. The woman died 13 days later from her injuries.
Shetye's images show a female model in high-end fashions, attempting to escape various men's sexual advances on a bus. One photo depicted the woman on the floor with a man standing over her, another shows her struggling with two men gripping her arms, and a different photograph has men pinning her down on the seats.
Social media users called the spread "disgusting," "highly insensitive," and "really f--ked up"—among other things.
"On a personal level, too, I got many reactions," the photog told BuzzFeed. "On my Facebook, from my friends. It makes me feel satisfied about my work—at least the work I did is so impactful that I'm able to shed some light on this. I don't feel happy, but it makes me feel satisfied. That whatever I've tried to communicate is being communicated."