Last week, photographer Raj Shetye’s high fashion photo shoot of a rape scene went viral. We chose not to re-publish the photos because they were awful, and indicative of a larger issue in the worlds of photography, film, and fashion. When do we draw the line between art and bad taste/disrespect?


Whether it’s black face, classic racism, showcasing domestic abuse, or graphic scenes of suicide, fashion magazines often hide behind the guise of art and design as a justification for the glamorization and profiting of trauma. Raj Shetye’s editorial featuring well dressed, artfully place men attacking a woman on a bus, was bizarrely justified as a way to make meaning of a traumatic event (the 2012 Delhi rape). But what he and his team of models, stylists, and editors have really done is show a deep lack of understanding and sensitivity towards the realities faced by victims of sexual violence. The Business of Fashion team put it well in their editorial, “When A Fashion Shoot Goes Too Far”:

Still, while it’s obvious to most reasonable people that this kind behaviour from fashion industry operators like Mr Shetye and his collaborators is completely out of line, it’s by no means the first time that fashion images have trivialised major social issues in India — and elsewhere for that matter — often featuring women in situations distress. This lack of taste and social awareness is a much broader and ongoing problem in fashion that has surfaced again and again all over the world, sometimes with the support of very high-profile media titles.

[…] taken together, they still contribute to the widely held perception that the fashion industry lives in some kind of alternate reality, where serious issues need not be taken seriously. It’s no wonder that, as an industry, we are constantly having to fight the notion that the fashion is made up of a bunch of vacuous people lacking a moral compass.

Read more at Business of Fashion.