NRI creates comic book heroine to address rampant rape

US NRI filmmaker Ram Devineni has created a comic book called 'Priya's Shakti' that features Priya, India's newest superhero and a rape survivor. Devineni was inspired to create his comic book after the horrific 2012 Delhi gang rape. He says he spoke to a police officer in Delhi and asked him for his opinion on what had happened on the bus and the officer's response was that 'no good girls walk home at night' implying that the victim probably deserved the attack or at least provoked it. The comic book tells the story of Priya a gang rape survivor who is ostracised by her family and community, so she teams up with Hindu Goddess Parvati to speak out against sexual violence and gender discrimination. For nearly a year Devineni traveled around India and Southeast Asia learning from poets, philosophers, activists and sociologists focused on gender based violence. He says he spoke with several rape survivors too and realised how difficult it was for them to seek justice, as they carried the burden of shame. To create the stunning illustrations in the comic book Devineni who chose the comic book format because of its lasting impression on children and teens, teamed up with Dan Goldman a comic book designer he met in New York. The comic book Priya's Shakti' is a recipient of the 2014 Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund, and is making waves for its futuristic approach to storytelling. The project also includes street murals showcased on walls throughout Mumbai. Aapne Aap Worldwide, a US and India based nonprofit that works with sex traffic victims teamed up with Priya's Shakti creators to provide the comic as an education tool to get the book out to communities and schools. Future issues will tackle other social problems and take heroine Priya around other parts of India and the world. 'Priya's Shakti' was released to the public free and can be downloaded from the website and at ComiXology, Apple's iBooks, Amazon and BitTorrent. It will also be premiering at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention this month.