Fashion designer Aamna Aqeel's "Be My Slave" photo shoot has sparked controversy and accusations of racism.
The images were published in DIVA, "Pakistan's Leading Fashion & Lifestyle Magazine."
Aqeel also published some of the images from the shoot on her Facebook page.
A number of angry Facebook users left comments on the photos.
But in a recent interview with the International Herald Tribune, the designer denied that there was a racist angle to the shoot.
The International Herald Tribune's Salima Feerasta writes:
According to [Aqeel], the choice of a dark-skinned Baloch child was purely incidental. "He works in a garage and wanted some work," she said. Obviously the parents of usual child models wouldn't have agreed to the shoot. The pampered little cuties who advertise soap, toothpaste and biscuits on TV may not have looked right for the part but even if they had, no one would have let their child play such a degrading role.
Aqeel's argument is that she wanted to spark a debate on child labour. She says she is involved with a children's charity and wanted to highlight how 'society madams' employ child labour in their homes. She is educating and supporting the child used in the shoot — it seems the least she can do after exploiting him in this fashion.
It's facetious of the designer to claim that she was trying to stimulate a debate on child labour. The model wearing her clothes is clearly comfortable with her dominant position. She is not made up in a way that shows her to be the villain of the piece. The use of a dark skinned child in a shoot entitled "Be My Slave" certainly reeks of racism, however much the designer may deny it. And if anything, the shoot seems to condone child labour.
Aqeel went on to deny that this was a publicity-seeking move on her part and says she is happy at the pace her brand is developing. Her purpose for this shoot was apparently not to publicise her brand, but to raise public awareness of a social issue. Apparently, she feels so blessed with her success that she wants to give back to society and feels that it's every individual's duty to do what he or she can to make life better for the underprivileged.