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    Here's Why A Two Year Old French Cartoon Is Going Hugely Viral In India Today

    The cartoon, which originally appeared in French magazine Causette in Jan. 2013, shows the phrase "India, the land of sacred cows" struck out and replaced by "India, the land of massacred women."

    Anyone with an eye on the Indian internet will have seen this striking image which has been tweeted and Facebook'd and WhatsApp'd umpteen times today:

    Camille Besse / Causette / Via camillebesse.com

    In it, the phrase "India, country of sacred cows" is edited via red strike-through to say, "India, country of massacred women."

    Charlie Hebdo view on India. Cow sacred, women easy game not secure.. Shameful #beefban

    Despite being repeatedly misattributed to French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, the cartoon originally appearing in Causette, a French feminist magazine.

    Causette
    Causette

    Camille Besse, the cartoonist who drew the image, has drawn several cartoons for Charlie Hebdo but this was not one of them.

    So, why's a two-year-old French cartoon going viral in India today?

    20th Century Fox / Via giphy.com

    Here's why: This morning, it was announced that the sale and possession of beef is banned in the western state of Maharashtra.

    BuzzFeed India

    While cow slaughter was outlawed in the state in 1976, vendors and restaurants continued to sell beef made from bullock meat. Under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill which received the president's assent today, the slaughtering of bulls and bullocks is now also banned. Anybody found defying this ban can face up to five years in prison and a fine of ₹ 10,000.

    Outraged about the ban, several Indians were quick to opine that in this state, cows are now more protected than women are.

    Welcome to Maharashtra. Cows are safe here. Women may or may not be.

    5 years jail for eating #Beef but 2 for sexual harassment.Thanks for making me a bigger criminal than a sex predator @Dev_Fadnavis #BeefBan

    On the bright side, at least cows are now safe in Maharashtra. Also, maybe a few years later, the women will be too.

    Well , at least cows are safe in Maharashtra . So what if women are not ? Its all about priorities . #BeefBan

    Glad to know, Maharashtra Govt has set their priorities right. Crimes against cows > crimes against women. #AchcheDin

    So basically...Maharashtra is a safer place for cows than women #BeefBan

    And Suddenly, cows feel safer than women in Maharashtra #beefBan

    #BeefBan quickly became the top trend in the nation...

    And Camille Besse's two-year-old cartoon became the face of the outrage. (Albeit constantly mis-credited to Charlie Hebdo.)

    Camille Besse, based in Paris, told BuzzFeed India in a call that this cartoon was originally inspired by the Dec. 16th 2012 rape and murder of a 23-year-old in Delhi, which made international headlines.

    "Here in France, I'm a cartoonist for a feminist magazine," Besse told BuzzFeed. "It was very, very important for us to speak out about what happened."

    Besse has herself travelled to India several times, including a 6-month stint in Puducherry where she worked as a graphic designer. She told BuzzFeed that in her own travels in India, she felt safe for the most part.

    "Maybe it's because as a white woman and a tourist, you're almost never alone," she said. "People can always see you and they want to help you."

    Besse went on to recount a different experience. "I was in Kashmir, it was maybe 2006 or 2007, and I was very surprised with women's conditions in this part of the country. People were very aggressive." Besse explained that she had to keep her arms and legs completely covered.

    "It's very strange because here in France we're always fighting about people who want women to hide their bodies and then I was on the other side and I had to hide myself."

    When asked if she expected her cartoon to find traction with an Indian audience, Besse said that, on the contrary, she's "very surprised."

    "I really hope the situation for women in India will get better. It's a very long way away," she said. "Here in France, many people think that we are safe this way, but we still always always have to fight to keep our rights."

    Check out more of Camille Besse's work on her website here or her Facebook page.

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