When a young woman in New Delhi, India, was brutally gang-raped on a bus in December 2012, making international headlines, Ram Devineni wasn’t going to stay silent. The filmmaker and artist marched in the streets alongside other protesters, calling for swift justice and systemic change to the all-too-common violence against women that plagues the country.
When he asked a Delhi police officer what he thought about the young woman’s assault, the officer told him, “No good girl walks home alone at night,” implying that she either provoked the rape or, worse, deserved it. His words reflected the misguided, patriarchal view that permeates much of Indian society, silencing women even further with social stigma.
“I realized at that moment that this was not a legal issue, but a cultural problem,” Devineni tells Mashable. “As a filmmaker and as an artist, I wanted to really address this in a cultural context.”
That’s why, two years later, he created and directed the transmedia comic book Priya’s Shakti — a story about the titular Priya, a gang-rape survivor-turned-superhero who partners with a Hindu goddess to fight sexual violence and challenge the patriarchy.
Co-written by Vikas K. Menon with artwork by Dan Goldman, the comic book is the first of its kind to use augmented reality and image recognition, using various media to tell the story of fighting back against sexual assault.