Comic Book Highlights Gender Sensitisation

New Delhi
Comic Book Highlights Gender Sensitisation
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

An interactive comic starring a teenager who has survived gangrape and featuring Hindu Goddess Parvati, who team up to fight gender based sexual violence in India and other parts of the world, was launched here today.

"Priya's Shakti," an augmented-reality based comic that takes its inspiration from ancient mythology has been created by Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman and tells the story of gang rape survivor Priya.

"Comics are not only for entertainment but also to help impart knowledge. A comic book can act as a platform for social activism," Dan Goldman, the book's illustrator told PTI.

Launched by Aapne Aap Women Worldwide (AAP)- a Delhi based NGO working against sex trafficking, the comic is aimed at a call to action to all men and women, boys and girls to have the courage to fight rape, sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

"Priya is a teenager who has been raped and seeks help from the gods. She flies around on a tiger to various victims across India to help them deal with their problems and to sensitize people around her to not to discriminate against them," says Devineni.

The New York-based comic designer was present in the city in December 2012, when protests took place in solidarity with the 23-year-old who was brutally gangraped who later died. He says he was moved by the activism of people at India Gate and other venues.

Devineni says he talked to a large number of people, including police who were deployed to keep the protesters in check. The incident as well as his interactions helped him to develop the idea of the strip which he hopes will go toward building gender sensitisation across the world.

"Sexual violence across the world is huge concern at present. The way the victims are treated is another serious issue which needs to be looked into. Victimisation post violence is a cultural problem since almost every society is a patriarchal society," says Devineni.

The book has been released online at www.priyashakti.com.

The online version of the book is said to be the first of its kind, with its innovative Augmented Reality feature, which enables one to scan different pages from the comic book using a freely downloadable mobile application Blippar.

"While scanning the pages — animation and videos pop-out of the book including real life stories and voices of Indian women who have survived assault and faced the trauma and social stigma," says Goldman.

Authors say the comic book can be freely downloaded and will be made available to colleges, schools and libraries across the world. The budget for production and the cost for distribution and circulation stand at USD 125,000.

Authors in collaboration with AAP are also set to take the book to various festivals across the world such as the Mumbai and Delhi Comic Con, the City Lore Gallery New York, Pen Word Voices International Festival.

"City Lore Gallery has dedicated their gallery completely to us. So we are going to have our comic strips up in the walls and then with the help of Blippar you can scan the walls which will bring the characters to reality on your device with animation and sounds," says Devineni.

AAP is also in talks with various state governments to help introduce the comic book in schools across the nation to help spread the word.

"We have received a positive response from Bihar government; we have a meeting with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan so that we can distribute the comic books at schools. We are hoping that there will be a positive response.

Yesterday, we led a march holding the mural of Priya from Connaught place to the bus stop where Nirbhaya boarded the bus with sex-workers from Najafgarh area to raise awareness on the issue," said Ruchira Gupta, founder, Apne Aap Women Worldwide.

The comic book has gone viral online.

"We are working towards developing a series for the comic with the help of AAP and its survivors of sexual violence," says Devineni.

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