This powerful photo series has Indian women wearing cow masks in protest


This powerful photo series has Indian women wearing cow masks in protest

You're guaranteed swift justice if you’re a cow, but not a woman

By ELLE team  June 28th, 2017

Photographer Sujatro Ghosh is asking the question that has been on everyone’s mind since reports of self-appointed cow vigilantes attacking people started cropping up at a terrifying rate — Are women less important than cattle in our country?

The Delhi-based photographer’s recent project has women wearing cow masks and posing in front of popular tourist hotspots and even in the privacy of their homes. Naturally, it’s gone hugely viral.

My art comes as a form of protest. In my country Cows are more important than a woman’s life with more security. (Reference: Majority of Hindus believe cow as their holy animal and they worship it though Majority of Muslims consume it as a part of their daily meal.) The debate is never ending “Whether to consume or worship it” but gaining political benefits out of it is wrong. Why not let the people decide what they want to consume. I will be photographing women from different parts of the society. I would be more than happy if you reach out to me and want to get photographed or maybe join this form of protest. (Unable to disclose name for security reasons) says : “The mask instils a feeling of closure in the world of creepy gazes and lewd comments. This makes me feel empowered and safe. Empowered because I can raise my voice against these political miscreants and safe because it conceals my identity.” #RisingBeyondJingoism #WHPstandout #bedroom #cow #women #protest #womenpower #politics #indiarising #phonecall #live #animals #love #laugh #art #conversation #everydayeverywhere #indiaphotoproject #everydayindia #womenphotographers #myfeatureshoot

A post shared by Sujatro Ghosh (@sujatroghosh) on Jun 17, 2017 at 6:33am PDT

“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,” he said in an interview with BBC, “(Rape 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 Ghosh, it’s a way of protesting the growing influences of these cow protection groups that have been responsible for the steadily growing cases of brutal mob lynching, like the recent fatal attack on a 17-year old Muslim boy who was suspected of carrying beef on a train from Delhi to Ballabhgarh.  

My art comes as a form of protest. In my country Cows are more important than a woman’s life with more security. (Reference: Majority of Hindus believe cow as their holy animal and they worship it though Majority of Muslims consume it as a part of their daily meal.) The debate is never ending “Whether to consume or worship it” but gaining political benefits out of it is wrong. Why not let the people decide what they want to consume. I will be photographing women from different parts of the society. I would be more than happy if you reach out to me and want to get photographed or maybe join this form of protest. Nicole says : “At least if I walk down the streets in a cow mask, my chances of being harassed will probably be slim. No one wants to harass anyone who looks like a deity or a representative of a deity.” #RisingBeyondJingoism #classroom #cow #women #protest #womenpower #politics #indiarising #studying #live #animals @instagram #love #laugh #art #standup #everydayeverywhere #indiaphotoproject #everydayindia #womenphotographers #myfeatureshoot

A post shared by Sujatro Ghosh (@sujatroghosh) on Jun 16, 2017 at 8:57am PDT 

Ghosh told BBC that he became aware of this toxic mix of religion and politics after moving to Delhi a few years ago and that he wanted to do something that would be impactful. So earlier this month, he decided to recruit his friends and acquaintances to pose in a latex cow mask in front of popular tourist destinations, government buildings, trains and their homes, to showcase that women are vulnerable almost everywhere.

While the feedback has largely been positive, it wasn’t long before the trolls caught on and began sending him death threats for his work. Some, reportedly, contacted the Delhi Police accusing Ghosh of trying to instigate a riot and demanding his arrest.

Ghosh clarified that while he hoped the government would take notice of the message he is trying to project, his target is actually the mindset of the Hindu supremacists across the country.

You can check out the full series right here.