Murder-themed fashion spread sparks outrage

TBILISI • A Kazakh magazine has come under fire over a fashion spread that showed models posing as murder victims, with critics saying the images eroticised violence against women.

The Buro 24/7 Kazakhstan magazine has since apologised after the spread showed a girl in a black dress lying lifeless near a bloodied knife and with her hand tied to a water pipe.

Another photo featured a woman sprawling motionless on a bed as forensic scientists put her stiletto shoes in a plastic bag.

The online-only magazine said the fashion spread was inspired by recent hit movies about infamous American killers Charles Manson and Ted Bundy.

But readers saw it differently in a country where women's rights groups say gender-based violence remains widespread.

"These photos only romanticise violence against women, causing disgust and fear," wrote Instagram user droyaronok.

On Tuesday, Buro 24/7's publishers took the pictures offline and issued an apology, but it denied the shoot glamorised violence.

"We understand that this photo material is sensitive, and we apologise for the possible impression it could have made," the publishers said in a statement on social media.

H&M, the fashion brand whose clothes were used in the spread, said it had no involvement in the initiative, beyond lending the magazine clothes.

The Swedish brand said it had not known about the theme of the shoot.

"It should be noted that H&M is strongly opposed to the romanticisation of violence," H&M Russia spokesman Artur Kasimov said.

About one in five Kazakh women has suffered violence at the hands of a partner at least once in her lifetime, according to a 2018 United Nations survey.

Ms Jacqui Hunt, director of Equality Now's Europe and Central Asia office, said violence against women and girls in Kazakhstan would continue unless attitudes that normalise it change.

"The fashion industry should be producing advertising that fosters respect, safety and empowerment of women and girls, not featuring images and ideas that eroticise and legitimise gender-based violence," she noted.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'Murder-themed fashion spread sparks outrage'. Print Edition | Subscribe