An Artist's 'Cow Mask' Project Questions The Safety Of Women In India
In 2012, a student in Delhi was gang-raped and murdered. The story was covered worldwide and opened up the conversation around violence towards women in Indian society. Since then, conviction rates for sexual offences has declined whilst there's been a surge in convictions for violence against cows, an animal sacred to Hindus.
In 2016, it was said that six rapes and 12 molestations were reported daily, with less than a third of all cases resulting in a conviction. Meanwhile, punishments for cow smuggling or slaughter have got tougher, with more people being held accountable for their actions. This leads to the question of who really is safer in India: the woman, or the cow?
Artist Sujatro Ghosh from Kolkata began to photograph women wearing cow masks to juxtapose the two types of crime that are being dealt with very differently by India's justice system. The images show women posing in front of landmarks, in their home, or out and about in the street.
'The core issue is women’s rights and protection,' he said. 'I’m not against protecting cows, I love animals. But I’m concerned about my country’s sociopolitical scenario.'
Increasing numbers of women are approaching Ghosh asking to get involved with the project, which not only highlights the stark contrast in attitudes, but shows support for victims of male and mob violence.
'Actually fighting with these politicians or extremist groups physically was never an option … so my primary intention is to create awareness among people,' Ghosh said.
Awareness is key and it's so great to see causes like this being stood for and in such a creative and impacting way. We can't wait to see what else is to come from the Ghosh's project.