Identity

To sell products, Indian Banker’s brand uses names of Kashmiri Women without their consent

Brand gets criticised for ‘misappropriation of Kashmiri women’s identity’ 

Products have been named after Parveena Ahanger, Ufra Mir, Nyla Ali Khan and Tajamul Islam

A Brooklyn based textile design e-commerce website, ‘Soil to Studio’, has used names of Kashmiri women, to sell their collection of Pashmina Scarves, without the consent of the women.

The website is run by an Indian Banker, Swati Bansal, hailing from Rajasthan’s Udaipur city.

The collection of scarves that have been put on sale on the website are named after prominent Kashmiri women including the founder of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), Parveena Ahanger.

The scarves are also being sold in the name of Ufra Mir, Asia’s only Peace Psychologist from Kashmir, Nyla Ali Khan, an author and academician, and Tajamul Islam, a Kashmiri kick-boxer.

The scarves on the website are being sold at a price of $250-300 US Dollars (18,800-22,500 Indian rupees) and claim to be “certified by The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce for quality and craftsmanship”.

When Free Press Kashmir reached out to Parveena Ahanger’s consultant, Shahid Malik, he said he was shocked to know about her name being used to sell scarves,

“Nobody from the organisation was approached by the Design Studio to seek permission for using her name. We have inititaed action against the owner of the studio,” Shahid said.

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The name since then has been removed from the website and the owner had apologised or using the name without her permission.

Ufra Mir, who was already aware of the situation said that she had come across it last month. “I have informed my lawyer about the same and will take the legal course,” Ufra said.

“This seems very intentional. If they wanted to ask for my permission they could have done that easily. It doesn’t seem like a mistake where I should ask and clarify anything. I will take the legal route,” Ufra added.

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan told Free Press Kashmir, “this studio has stolen my name and is using my biographical information for their own capital gain. I am outraged by the fraudulent use of my name and bio without my consent.”

“I have contacted the appropriate United States federal authorities, who will act on my behalf to stop the fraudulent actions taken by people whose antecedents and credentials are unknown to me,” she added.

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Netizens lashed out at the brand for misappropriating Kashmiri women’s identity, and using their names without consent.

While one netizen wrote to the brand about not ‘describing the politics and struggle of Parveen Ahanger while profiting off her name’ others asked the brand to declare how much profits where shared with those whose name was used.

Free Press Kashmir repeatedly tried to get the owner, Swati Bansal’s comments, but she did not respond to our emails and messages.

This, however, is not the first time when Kashmiri women’s names have been used to sell products.

Last year in October, an Indian designer Sanjay Garg received backlash for launching his designer collection “Zooni”. Zooni, who later came to be known as Habba Khatoon was a Kashmiri poetess and wife of Kashmir’s ruler Yusuf Shah Chak.

Garg’s collection received huge backlash from Kashmiris and the designer was widely criticised for cultural appropriation which led to the brand taking posts down from their instagram — where they had launched the collection.

 

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