Altair Guimarães

Comic Book 'Priya's Shakti' Takes on Fight Against Gender-based Violence in India

“Priya’s Shakti” is a multimedia project to raise awareness of violence against women in India. Readers use "augmented reality" technology to watch a pop-up comic book animation and listen to audio using an app on their smartphones.

The story features Priya, a rape victim-turned-superhero and a character developed from the stories of many real-life victims. The determined Priya partners up with Hindu Goddess Parvati to stop the gender-based violence that affects hundreds of thousands of women in India. The virtual reality pop-up book uses the comic strip format to reach a wide audience in India and around the world. "Sexual violence is NOT just an Indian issue," says Ram Devineni, the director of "Priya’s Shakti."

In this Trust Docs video, Devineni speaks to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about the inspiration and motivation behind his work, which began after the infamous December 2012 Delhi bus gang rape incident. As the project developed, he says a lot of attention went into respecting the sensitivity of the subject matter and retaining the integrity of Hindu mythology. "This was a project designed by Indians, for Indians, about India," he said.

The project calls for action against sexual harassment and violence. "Although digital downloads are great and Facebook likes are wonderful, I don't equate them with actual social impact," Devineni said. The team developed workshops in Mumbai and Delhi for teenagers to create their own one-page comic using stories from their communities or personal experiences. The teenagers drew their comics and were paired up with mentors and sociologists to discuss the social justice issues at hand.

"There's something very profound about a teenager drawing a woman who has been raped or a woman who has had acid thrown on her face," he said. "It's a very active endeavor and very profound."

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