In a bid to send the message across that cows are safer than women in India, Sujatro Ghosh, a 23-year-old independent artist is carrying out a photo-project, asking women to wear “cow masks” to draw attention toward women’s safety issues.
“These days, the right-wing extremists have been making an effort to protect the cow who they consider as our mother. On the other hand, we don’t care about the ever increasing crime rates and incidents of rape and molestation of women,” says Ghosh to WION.
Ghosh began by first encouraging his friends and acquaintances to get photographed. Once his project went online, he started receiving calls and messages from all around India and from abroad to become part of his project.
“…in my country, 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,” says Ghosh to BBC.
The issue Sujatro Ghosh is raising up is pertinent for every 15 minutes a rape is reported in India. As per the NCRB report, more than 34,000 rape cases were registered in 2015 but in only 21% of these cases has the accused received punishment.
On another hand, human killings or lynching for cows has become frequent after the BJP came to power at the Centre. And not just cow protection groups, in the past two years, the state governments and the Centre have made those laws stricter which concern cow safety.
A question hence comes up that if the governments can show urgency in the matter of cows, then why no such urgency is being shown for the safety of half of the Indian population.
“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” says Nicole, one of the participants of the project.
While reactions to the project have largely been positive, certain netizens found it ridiculous and were unsure if rapists or molesters respect cows, especially those who eat beef.
Ghosh, however, is not bothered. “My intention is never to make fun of the cow… I want these same people who treat cows as mothers to also have the same sense of protection for girls,” Ghosh adds.
[Images courtesy: Sujatro Ghosh]