Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

An Indian model who faked her own death in a publicity stunt to raise awareness about cervical cancer has defended her actions, saying in a social media post that she was proud of what her “death news has been able to achieve”.

Poonam Pandey, a 32-year-old reality TV star and former Bollywood actor who shot to fame in 2011 when she promised she would strip for the India cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup, was said to have died on Friday.

In a statement that appeared to be from her management team, her 1.3 million followers were informed on Instagram: “This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.”

Colleagues and co-stars posted about their sadness and grief on social media, and a flurry of obituaries were published, but others were sceptical, pointing out that footage of Pandey looking healthy and enjoying a boat ride in Goa had been posted on social media four days earlier.

Pandey then conceded in a video that she “didn’t die” and apologised to her followers for shocking them.

“Yes, I faked my demise. Extreme, I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we?” Pandey said. “I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve.”

“Unlike some other cancers, cervical cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease. Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take.”

She then urged her followers to “bring #DeathToCervicalCancer”.

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for nearly one-quarter of the world’s cervical cancer cases, with more than 200 women losing their lives every day to the disease.