In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in Asian females entering the comic book world. Marvel, for instance, has created two Asian superheroines: Ms. Marvel and Silk. Well, it looks like there’s a new girl in town and unlike the Marvel super heroes, she’s fighting something much more realistic than mutated super villains. She combats the very real issues of rape, sexual violence and harassment in India and all around the world.
“A beautiful woman, wrapped in a sari, sits calmly on top of a ferocious tiger,” NBC News describes. “This is how much of the world meets Priya, India’s newest superhero and a rape survivor.”
From the talented mind of Indian American filmmaker Ram Devineni, Priya’s Shakti’s tale begins with a violent gang rape. As a result, Priya is ostracized by her family and community out of shame. This is when Priya sends an empowering message for women everywhere by not staying silent on the taboo topic. Under the guidance of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, Priya chooses to speak out against rape and other acts of sexual violence.
Devineni say’s he was first inspired to create this comic book after the infamous 2012 New Delhi gang rape. After speaking to a New Delhi officer, he was shocked to discover that many men thought the victim was the one who provoked the rape by being out so late.
In disbelief over this perspective, Devineni spent the following year traveling around India and Southeast Asia to get a closer look at the true nature of this very serious issue.
“Talking with several rape survivors, I realized how difficult it was for them to seek justice and how much their lives were constantly under threat after they reported the crime,” Devineni. told NBC News. “Their family, local community, and even the police discouraged them from pursuing criminal action against their attackers. The burden of shame was placed on the victim and not the perpetrators.”
Devineni was motivated by real-life stories to challenge society’s fear of discussing rape. He made the comic book even more accessible by adding another layer to it. Viewers can scan the comic book and the animation comes to life. With the addition of sound and movement, he hopes that people will remember that these sort of violent acts actually happen in real life.
“We want people to tell their friends ‘I stand with Priya,’Devineni explained, “and support women’s equality and the struggles of rape survivors to seek justice.”
The comic will premiere at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention from December 19th to the 21st.
Feature image courtesy of Bitpage.