India is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman due to a high risk of sexual violence. According to government figures, more than 32,000 rape cases were reported in 2017 alone. This week, in the city of Hyderabad, 27 year-old veterinarian Priyanka Reddy was gang-raped, smothered to death and her body burned by four young men. The rape sparked widespread outrage and protest and evoked memories of the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi that prompted global anger in 2012.
It is cases like Reddy’s that inspire Ram Devineni’s comic book series ‘Priya Shakti’. In the latest instalment ‘Priya and the Lost Girls’, Priya, India’s first woman superhero and rape survivor, returns to tackle sex trafficking.
The comic addresses the stigma around sex trafficking and was launched during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. As in previous editions, Devineni and co-writer Dipti Mehta use an accompanying augmented reality app and mythical characters rooted in Hindu culture to shed light on the harsh realities of trafficking.
On this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how the comic is challenging systems of patriarchy that perpetuate violence against women.
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