news

Why women across India are posing for photos wearing cow masks.

A politically-charged photography project that shows women wearing cow masks in everyday situations has gone viral after raising questions about women’s rights in India.

Launched by male photographer Sujatro Ghosh, the project aims to point out the double standards of treatment in the predominantly Hindu nation.

“I am perturbed by the fact that in my country, cows are considered more important than a woman. That it takes much longer for a woman who is raped or assaulted to get justice than for a cow which many Hindus consider a sacred animal,” 23-year-old Ghosh told the BBC earlier this week.

A post shared by Sujatro Ghosh (@sujatroghosh) on

“These cases go on for years in the courts before the guilty are punished, whereas when a cow is slaughtered, Hindu extremist groups immediately go and kill or beat up whoever they suspect of slaughter.”

According to recent statistics, a rape is reported in India every 15 minutes. Few cases, however, lead to prosecution and often the victims of sexual assault are shunned by their family and friends.

In 2012, the attack on 23-year-old Jyoti Singh made headlines around the world after she was raped by six men and eventually died from internal injuries brought on by the attack. In 2015, two sisters were sentenced to gang rape by a jury as punishment for their brother eloping with a married woman. Earlier this year, one woman was gang-raped by a group of men before being murdered and left on the street.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the same time, however, the Indian government is reportedly considering passing laws to introduce the death penalty to those who kill cows, an animal that is considered a sacred being in the Hindu religion.

Originally hailing from Kolkata, Ghosh launched the series in Dehli two weeks ago, photographing women “from every part of society.”

“I took the first photo in front of the iconic India Gate, one of the most visited tourist places in India. Then I photographed a model in front of the presidential palace, another on a boat in the Hooghly river in Kolkata with the Howrah bridge as the backdrop,” he said.

A post shared by Sujatro Ghosh (@sujatroghosh) on

Now, the series includes images of women playing the piano, catching the train, walking through a busy marketplace and chatting on the phone.

And despite some negative comments, Ghosh says overwhelmingly, the response from his 23,000 strong social media following has been positive.

“I’m making a political statement because it’s a political topic,” he says, adding, “I’m not afraid because I’m working for the greater good.”

Follow Ghosh on Instagram or see all of the images in his series here

00:00 / ???