Priya’s Shakti honored by UN Women as “Gender Equality Champion”.
ORGINS. The idea to create “Priya’s Shakti” comic book series came after the horrible gang rape that happened on a bus in New Delhi in 2012. There was an enormous outcry in particular from young adults and teenagers —both women and men. Many people felt a cultural shift has to happen especially views towards the role of women in modern society. Deep-rooted patriarchal views needed to be challenged. As a result, we created a new Indian “superhero” – Priya, who is a rape survivor and through the power of persuasion she is able to motivate people to change.
This first story was specifically constructed to address the problem of blaming victims of sexual violence and provided a character, Priya, who could inspire change throughout communities by appealing to audiences — especially youth — with an empathetic narrative. Priya’s story became a powerful voice a in the global movement for women’s rights and a symbol of solidarity against gender-based violence and continuing with the #MeToo movement. The creators of the comic book were honored by UN Women as “gender equality champions.”
Priya’s Shakti is a path-breaking superhero who fights for women’s rights and equality. – INDIA EXPRESS
The first edition, “Priya’s Shakti” was initially funded by the Tribeca Film Institute, Ms. Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, and the comic book launched at the Mumbai Comic and Film Convention in December 2014. “It was the most anticipated comic book release of the event.” — Mumbai Week. The comic book and character became an immediate hit and went viral with over 700 news stories worldwide and over 500,000 digital downloads and over 30,000 printed copies distributed in schools, NGOs, festivals, and comic book conventions. The success of the first chapter lead to the second edition, “Priya’s Mirror,” which was the first comic book to be funded by the World Bank, and premiered with an augmented reality exhibition at Lincoln Center at the New York Film Festival in October 2016. Priya returned wielding her power to defend survivors of acid attacks and was written in collaboration with these heroic women who became characters in the comic book. The comic book went viral again with major features on BBC, a full program on Al-Jazeera, and the cover of Newsweek (ME), and was named by Fast Company as one of the top creative projects of 2017. Priya and her powerful message has reached over 26 million people worldwide through multiple platforms, books, and exhibitions. The next edition of the series focuses on sex trafficking— “Priya and the Lost Girls.”
Augmented Reality Comic Books & Art. Central to the project is an augmented reality (AR) comic book & exhibition – the first of its kind with international outreach and social engagement. This project helped define the new frontier of integrating literary publications & exhibitions with AR technology.
MOTIVATIONS. Gender-based sexual violence (GBV) in India and around the world is deeply rooted in patriarchal views. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 billion women worldwide, have or will experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. A lot of gender-based violence is not reported due to fear and shame. Through Priya’s Shakti message, this project can reach wide audiences in India and around the world–anywhere GBV is an issue. The comic book shatters the taboos around gender based violence through art, education, and a strong identifiable female character who is a rape survivor and superhero.
The power of the comic book series is that it presents very difficult topics in a very approachable and empathetic way. Readers can relate with the characters and story, and especially the main character – Priya, and understand. Creating a female superhero and using the genre of “superheroes” provides readers with a familiarity and accessibility to the comic book and these complex problems.
There is a new weapon in the battle to prevent violence against women in India — a comic book. — Wall Street Journal
Partners & Funders
PRIYA’S SHAKTI is a Rattapallax production. Initially supported by the Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund and the Ford Foundation, and funded by World Bank’s WEvolve Global Initiative. Apne Aap Women Worldwide is the non-profit engagement partner. The comic book series and interactive work was developed at Crossover Labs. PRIYA AND THE LOST GIRLS is proudly supported by the Merriweather District’s artist-in-residence program, funded by Howard Hughes Corporation. Located in Columbia, MD, the residency provided an environment and resources for creator, Ram Devineni and his colleagues to continue to produce the third installment.
Selected for the market at Power to the Pixel, Cross Video Days, DOK Leipzig Net Lab, and Sheffield DocFest’s Crossover Market. Incubated at the ‘Made in NY’ Media Center by IFP. City Lore was our exhibition and New York City educational outreach partner. Augmented reality partner is Blippar. HuHuba designed our comic book APP. PRIYA’S MIRROR was co-produced worldwide with Mahendra Singh Foundation. Co-produced with Natalia Ponce de Leon Foundation in Colombia. Co-produced with Acid Survivors Trust International (A.S.T.i) in the UK.
The comic book is funded by the The Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Art, and a grant from Asian Women’s Giving Circle supported by Ms. Foundation for Women. The series was also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional funding was provided by a Face Out grant administered by The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. We also received a Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust. Presentation of “Parvati Saves the World” is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
The comic book is copyrighted and registered at the United States Copyright Office, a part of the Library of Congress. All rights reserved.