Report and Press Release of protest staged in Calcutta against Fastrack advertisement showing woman on sale

January 26, 2014

By Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

“Fastrack has always stood for being a fun, quirky and youthful brand. Our intention was never to project women in any demeaning manner whatsoever or objectify them, Fastrack has the highest respect and regard for women. We acknowledge that the current campaign has hurt the sentiments of some sections of the society. In light of this, Fastrack has withdrawn this campaign with immediate effect and have proactively replaced it with another advertisement”
Rajeswari Srinivasau (Regional Bussiness Head)

The authorities at ‘Fastrack’ a (TITAN) brand name belonging to the TATA group of companies were finally forced to backtrack on the highly offensive advertisement released by them showing a woman wrapped in a tape bearing ‘SALE’. The company had to declare that it will withdraw the ad from all over the country within Monday (27th January). The many words professing ‘respect’ for women in the letter notwithstanding, from reducing the issue of objectification to ‘some sentiments getting hurt’ it is clear that neither Fastrack, nor any other big companies of its kind has ever had any commitment in addressing issues of commodification and objectification. Clearly, the withdrawal of the ad is no evidence of the company’s gender sensitivity but only that of the pressure brought upon it by the active sections of the public. While the ad had already been withdrawn from Delhi metro by concerned authorities after a protest staged by some journalists in the capital, the loud slogans, banners and posters brought by protesters from Krantikari Naujawan Sabha and the public burning of a copy of the advertisement in front of the company’s main showroom in Calcutta finally forced the company to put this in effect all across the country.

This particular advertisement by ‘Fastrack’ is however, little more than a drop in the ocean of advertisements, films and pornographic material using objectified images of women’s body. We feel that the removal of this particular ad is a small success, which can only be useful if it can translate our anger against the incidents of gender violence to an imagination of fighting against the causes of it, if we can imagine that the present prevailing socio-economic system can be really thrown out by our collective effort.

24th January, 2014
KRANTIKARI NAUJAWAN SABHA

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Press release by KNS for the protest demonstration:

PRESS RELEASE

Demanding an apology and the immediate removal of the ‘Fastrack’ advertisement, with woman tagged for ‘SALE’…

At the time, when we all are both disturbed and angry by the consecutive incidents of rape in Kamduni, Madhyamgram, Khidirpur and lastly Lavpur of Birbhum, we, on behalf of KRANTIKARI NAUJAWAN SABHA, an independent revolutionary youth organization, are protesting against the recent advertisement of ‘FLAT 20% OFF’, posed by FASTRACK (a TATA brand), the famous dealer of watches, bags and sunglasses. This advertisement by ‘Fastrack’ depicts a woman, wrapped with a ‘SALE’ tag. The imagery very strongly suggests that the girl in the picture is on sale as it features little apart from her body.

We feel that in today’s times, when rapes are frequent in the city and voices of protest have been raised from all corners of society, such misogynist advertisements, depicting women as commodities to satisfy the greed of profit, must be protested against. We will protest and burn a copy of the advertisement in front of the Fastrack showroom at Park Street on 24th January, 2pm. We demand that Fastrack must apologize and remove the advertisement without delay. We would have to take further steps nationwide if this advertisement is not removed immediately.

If we watch the advertisement closely, we will see that the model in the picture is neither having sunglass, watch or bag (things ‘Fastrack’ is selling), she is here used only as a ‘sex-object’. In this context, we must specify that our problem with the advertisement is NOT with the ‘nudity’. Our problem is with the ‘SALE’ tag on the woman’s body, depicting it as a commodity for sale. We strongly uphold the right of a woman to wear whatever dress she likes, and condemn the opinion that goes around- “rapes occur due to woman wearing ‘short’ dresses”.

We feel that the patriarchal ‘rape culture’ in our society is propagated as much through these types of ‘modern’ advertisements as through ‘old’ institutions like ‘Khap Panchayats’ or the ‘Salishi Sabha’ of interior areas of Birbhum. We have heard that DELHI METRO AUTHORITY has agreed to remove the ‘Fastrack’ advertisement in the recent past after protests in Delhi. We demand that the West Bengal state government, State Police along with the State Women’s Commission must take necessary steps to remove this objectionable advertisement immediately. We also demand that immediate steps be taken against the using of women’s bodies in advertisements as sexual objects, a phenomenon which stares at us from every other hoarding on the streets. We also appeal to the public to recognize and discourage such abuse of women’s bodies and their sexual identity for profit making.

Moumita Das

on behalf of KRANTIKARI NAUJAWAN SABHA

(The advertisement is given in the picture below)