Priyanka Chopra and several other influential Bollywood celebrities have slammed an Indian TV commercial that critics say promotes gang rape.
Advertisement (since then aired) for Layer’r Shot, a men’s fragrance brand.
In the ad, a group of four men appear to be stalking a lone woman in a store. As the woman stooped to put something in her cart, one of the four men in the ad said, “We’re four, and who’s taking the picture?”
It is only when the frightened woman turns around that it becomes clear that four men are talking about body spray, of which there is only one bottle on the shelf behind her.
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Then one of the men in the ad took a bottle of perfume from the shelf and sprayed it on his neck.
Within 24 hours of the ad being released, outrage erupted on social media and the ad was removed. India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting also asked Twitter and YouTube to remove the ads.
Richa Chadda, an Indian actor, shared the ad on Twitter, writing that the ad was “not a coincidence”.
Chadda writes: “To create an advertisement, a brand must go through many layers of decisions. “Advertising, script, agency, client, broadcast… EVERYONE THINK RAPE IS A JOB?”
The actor also called for the advertising agency to be sued “for the trash they’re serving.”
Chopra responded to Chadda’s tweet, calling the ad “shameful and disgusting.”
“How many people think this is okay?” Chopra tweeted. “I’m glad it was called out and now the Department has taken it down. Terrible! ”
Others still stoned the ad, including Farhan Akhtar, an Indian actor and director, who called the ad “tasteless” and “shameful”.
On Monday, Layer’r Shot released a “Clearance Statement”. The company claims it “never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings or emotions or offend any woman’s modesty or promote any kind of culture, as some was misinterpreted”.
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“However, we sincerely apologize for the advertisements that have thereby caused fury among individuals and certain communities and beg their forgiveness,” the statement continued.
They added that as of June 4, the commercials will stop airing altogether.
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As many on social media have pointed out, the ad comes at a particularly horrendous time, making it all the more insensitive. In May, a 17-year-old man was allegedly raped by four men in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. According to reports, when the teen tried to report the rape, she was allegedly raped by a police officer again.
Swara Bhasker, an Indian actor, made the same point in a tweet, claiming that companies like Layer’r Shot are rapists & collective “‘cool-ifying’.”
According to Statista, the number of reported rapes in India is over 28,000 in 2020 (although many more are believed to be unreported).
Statista reports: “Although reports of rape cases have increased in recent years, it is still associated with shame for the victim, rather than the perpetrator.
If you or someone you know is being abused or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canada Resource Center for Crime Victims for help. They can also be reached toll free at 1-877-232-2610.
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