Comic book for women's rights launched

A heroic rape survivor who receives her powers from Hindu goddess Parvati is at the centre of a comic book launched in Delhi on the second anniversary of the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student.

The interactive “augmented reality” comic called Priya Shakti, created by two New-York based artists and an Indian poet-playwright, has been published by the literary publishing house Rattapallax.

“It is an augmented reality comic book which uses a popular app to make animation, videos and other interactive elements pop out of its pages,” Ram Devineni, co-creator of the comic book – available both digitally and in print, said. He along with poet-playwright Vikas K Menon scripted personal stories of women who have experienced gender-based violence while protecting their identities.

Funded by Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund and supported by the Ford Foundation, the book is part of a larger multimedia project by the same name (www.priyashakti.com), which includes workshops, street art, documentary films and augmented reality initiatives through apps.

The  newly launched comic tells the story of Priya – a mortal woman and gang-rape survivor – and the Goddess Parvati as they fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the world supporting the movement against patriarchy, misogyny and indifference.

The Indian American filmmaker told Deccan Herald that the idea for the comic book came to him in December 2012 as street protests erupted after the rape of a physiotherapy student in a moving bus.

"I was in Delhi at the time and I was part of some of the protests," he said. After mooting the idea, he, Devineni and his crew interviewed rape survivors across India to create a singular narrative.

Inspiration for the comic book has also come in parts from the popular 1970’s comic-book series by Amar Chitra Katha that features tales of Hindu gods.

“Hindu gods and their moral tales have a more universal appeal. They are part of India’s collective consciousness,” New York-based graphic artist and co-creator of the book Dan Goldman said. “We have tried to tell the story without altering mythological figures of gods.”


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