India's newest superhero is fighting back against rape
A new comic book by Indian filmmaker Ram Devineni features a superhero whose strength doesn’t come from a radioactive spider bite or from extraterrestrial parents, but from courage and the resilience in the face of sexual violence.
The comic, Priya’s Shakti, tells the story of Priya, a devotee of the Hindu Goddess Parvati and a rape survivor. In the first installment, free to download online, Priya is banished from her home when she tells her family about her rape. The Goddess Parvati, horrified by the gender-based violence that mortal women experience on Earth, teams up with Priya, who then gains courage to share her story publicly and fight against sexual harassment and rape.
The project was inspired, Devineni told the Telegraph, by the 2012 brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi. “Talking with several rape survivors, I realized how difficult it was for them to get justice,” Devineni said. “Often, they do not report crimes out of fear for their lives, or to avoid the backlash they may face from their family, authorities, and community.”
“Priya’s Shakti highlights the threat of sexual harassment and violence that women face on a daily basis unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are challenged. Priya is a new hero for a modern India,” he continued.
The goal, according to the comic’s website, is to “create an alternative narrative and voice against gender based violence in popular culture through the Hindu mythological canon . . .This project highlights the threat of sexual harassment and violence that women face on a daily basis unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are challenged.”
Dan Goldman, who illustrates the comic, echoed that statement to The Telegraph. “With Priya’s Shakti came the chance to put a symbolic face to the issue and enlighten all genders about sexual violence, and there’s no format better suited to this than the instantly accessible medium of comics.” We are touched and heartened to see such a powerful and important female character be given the status of superhero.
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