Bollywood Artists Rail Against a ‘Disgusting’ Body Spray Commercial for Downplaying Rape Culture

Photo: SCMP

A television commercial for men’s body spray in India was taken off after critics said it made light of gang rape. 

Bollywood artists such as Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chadha, and Farhan Akhtar have been vocal about their criticism of the new fragrance commercial, calling it “shameful,” “disgusting,” and “incredibly tasteless.”

The video captures four men strikingly stalking a woman as she looks frightened in the store before one of the men states, “We’re four, there’s one, who takes the shot?”

When the woman turns around, only then does the audience find out that the men are talking about the body spray – which one of the men gets from the store shelf and uses. 

The commercial sent shockwaves through social media, with many users branding it as tasteless and inappropriate. The backlash was massive; critics included numerous showbusiness personalities who lambasted their insinuation as making light of rape. 

Several people stated that the timing of the advertisement is quite insensitive since it was aired only a week following a case in which five men in the southern city of Hyderabad allegedly raped a 17-year-old was revealed – the most recent in a series of major crimes against women and minority groups all over the country. 

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“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and promoting a rapist mentality among men. The advertisement is cringeworthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” said the Delhi Commission for Women chairwoman Swati Maliwal in a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday. 

The ministry has already removed the video from its platforms and notified Twitter and YouTube to remove it. 

The ministry, in an email to Twitter, wrote the videos were “detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency and morality” and went beyond the line of the digital media ethics code. 

In a statement on Monday, Layer’r Shot expressed its apologies for the television commercial, stating it “never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments or feelings or outrage any woman’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some.” 

The brand administered a media blackout on all broadcasts of its commercial from Saturday, urgently requesting that no one telecast this particular version.

Even following its takedown, the commercial still gained controversy, as many celebrities continued to blast it, with some calling out the creators of the commercial for treating rape as a joke.

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