Earlier this year, an Indian woman was lambasted for telling a group of girls they “deserve to get raped” for wearing clothing that showed their legs.
Her comments point to the severity of India’s rape crisis, which often places blame on the victim. Last year, a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey named India the most dangerous country for women, largely because of its rampant sexual violence problem.
Now, a group of young creatives at Hill Holliday and BBDO have taken it upon themselves to address the issue via a line of saris that are perfect for women who want to protect themselves from “prying eyes and unwelcome penises.”
While the saris aren’t actually for sale, the “price” for each one is actually a suggested donation amount, with proceeds going toward an organization called Sayfty that works to educate and empower women against violence.
Each sari on the site includes a direct yet tongue-in-cheek description. For instance, the green Ambitious Naari Office Saree guarantees that “your body, as well as your career aspirations, remain covered.” A beach-friendly sari provides an alternative to a bikini, as it protects women from both the sun and unwanted male attention at the same time.
While the descriptions are intended to be humorous, they are unflinching in conveying a serious message: Modest clothing won’t stop rapists, but education, law and the empowerment of women will.
“Despite popular beliefs, rape is not caused by ‘English’ music, chow mein or short dresses,” the site reads. “It isn’t caused by women working, drinking or being out late. It’s caused by the rapist’s desire to exert power over her and forcibly take away her bodily autonomy.”
The campaign was created by Hill Holliday creatives Tanvi Tandon, James Barkley and Miklas Manneke along with Anish Easwar, a copywriter at BBDO. They were inspired to create the faux line of saris after being “shocked and saddened to see victim blaming resurface in the context of India’s rape culture,” and wanted to do something that would push the conversation beyond social media likes and shares.
Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday, said the project is a “perfect example of why what we do matters.”
“I’m incredibly proud of this team, and I’m so inspired by their passion and energy,” she said. “They didn’t wait for permission to make this work. They didn’t have a brief. They didn’t have a deadline. They decided it mattered, it was important to them and they did it.”
Copywriter, Hill Holliday: Tanvi Tandon
Copywriter, BBDO: Anish Easwar
ACD/Art, Hill Holliday: James Barkley
Sr. Are Director, Hill Holliday: Miklas Manneke
Stylist: Tara Muscarella, Hill Holliday
Ethnic Stylist: Vandi Rana, Hill Holliday
Models (all work at Hill Holliday in other capacities): Sarah Awan, Mimi Lopez, Ravina Jangra and Tanvi Tandon
Music: SickFlip – Sarvesh Srivastava, Mumbai