Indian actor faces backlash after faking death in what she says was effort to raise awareness for cervical cancer

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Indian actor Poonam Pandey is facing criticism after faking her death in what she says was an effort to raise awareness for cervical cancer.

Two days ago, a post was published on the actor’s Instagram page announcing her death.

“Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer,” the post read. “Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.”

The supposedly deceased Pandey reappeared on Instagram with a video a day later.

“I’m alive,” the actor said. “I didn’t die because of cervical cancer. Unfortunately, I cannot say that about those hundreds and thousands of women who have lost their lives because of cervical cancer. It is not because they couldn’t do anything about it, because they had no idea what to do about it. I’m here to tell you that unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is preventable. All you have to do is you have to get your tests done and you have to get HPV vaccine.”

Fans criticized Pandey’s decision to fake her own death in the comments.

“Worst PR Stunt, you could have done a better way, than highlighting such a sensitive topic for so many cancer patients,” one commenter wrote. “Highly not appreciated.”

“Worst awareness stunt!” another one wrote.

The actor defended her actions, which she said were part of a campaign she started working on four months ago with Indian marketing agency Schbang.

“While I do understand how you would have perceived this in bad taste, I also implore you to consider the greater cause,” she said in an Instagram post Saturday.

“I want to assure you that this intervention was necessary. The deliberate effort made sure ‘Cervical Cancer’ got attached to 500 headlines in the same day and if that’s the kind of impact we can bring in a day, imagine what all we can do if we decided to come together and speak up,” she wrote.

In another video, Pandey addressed criticism that she was insensitive, adding that her mother suffered from throat cancer and she knows “how bad it gets.”

“Here I was just promoting something for a good cause, a cancer which is preventable, and yet so many women die,” she said.

No parties involved in the campaign were paid for it, Pandey added.

Schbang also issued a statement on the campaign apologizing to those who were triggered by it “as a result of having faced/ having a loved one face the hardships of any kind of Cancer.”

“Our actions were driven by a singular mission - to elevate awareness about Cervical Cancer,” the company wrote. “In 2022, India registered 123,907 Cervical Cancer cases and 77,348 deaths. After Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer is the second-most frequent malignancy affecting middle aged women in India.”

The agency also defended the campaign, adding that Poonam’s actions “resulted in making ‘Cervical Cancer’ and its related terms the most searched topic(s) on Google.”

“This is the first time in the history of this country that the word ‘Cervical Cancer’ has been on 1000+ Headlines,” the agency said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com