Actress Poonam Pandey fakes her own death to raise awareness of cervical cancer

Actress Poonam Pandey has faked her own death. She said she carried out the act to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Photo by Instagram/Poonam Pandey.Actress Poonam Pandey has faked her own death. She said she carried out the act to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Photo by Instagram/Poonam Pandey.
Actress Poonam Pandey has faked her own death. She said she carried out the act to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Photo by Instagram/Poonam Pandey. | Photo by Instagram/Poonam Pandey.
Reality star Poonam Pandey pretended to be dead in a publicity stunt to raise cancer awareness

An Indian reality TV star, actress and model has faked her own death to raise awareness of cervical cancer.

Poonam Pandey, aged 32, rose to fame in 2011 when she publicly declared she would strip for the India cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup, though she did not follow through with her promise.

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Now, Pandey has made another controversial comment that has got people talking. On Friday, (February 1), a post on Pandey's official Instagram page, which has written as if it had come from her loved ones, claimed she had been "lost" to cervical cancer. The post read: "This morning was a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. In this time of grief, we would request for privacy while we remember her fondly."

The post, which was seen by Pandey's 1.3 million followers, was quickly flooded with condolence messages. However, just a day later, on Saturday (February 2), Pandey posted a video diary where she revealed she had not died at all - and instead she faked her death to raise awareness of the condition.

The video was captioned: "I feel compelled to share something significant with you all - I am here, alive. Cervical cancer didn’t claim me, but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease. 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. Visit the link in the bio to delve deeper into what can be done. Together, let’s strive to put an end to the devastating impact of the disease and bring #DeathToCervicalCancer."

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Another post labelled her actions as a "bold act" which "aims to spotlight the urgency of regular screenings, early detection, and the power of knowledge in conquering this silent threat". Many fans have labelled it as a "cheap publicity stunt" and have condemned her actions. One person said: "You made your existence a joke! This is ridiculous!! There could be better ways to spread the awareness."

Another added: "Nobody is talking about cervical cancer but the level to which someone can stoop down to such cheap publicity stint and give justification in the name of awareness is insane!! Please seek help !!! Death is something sacred , making fun of it is not acceptable!!"

In Pandey's most recent post, however, she stood by her decision. She wrote: "We (meaning Pandey and her team) believe in this cause and stand by this campaign that we started working on four months ago", although she did issue a "heartfelt apology" to people who have been triggered by her actions.

Cervical cancer is among the second leading cause of death of women in India, and 25% of all global deaths due to cervical cancers occur in India, according to The George Institute for Global Health. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It can often be prevented by attending cervical screening, which aims to find and treat changes to cells before they turn into cancer, according to the NHS.

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Backlash to Pandey's actions is, however, continuing. One person said: "You spread awareness on cervical cancer through spread fake news. How is this justified? Can you explain. First learn how not to spread fake news." Another said: "This isn’t an apology and it changes nothing. You and everyone else involved, just bury your head in shame. That’s all that there’s left to do."

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