Interactive Comic Book Fights Violence Against Women in India

by Daniel Farber-Bell

priya_logoPriya’s Shakti” (translated to “beloved’s power”) is a new augmented reality comic book and art exhibition, fighting abuse against women in India and around the world. The project, which was produced by “Rattapallax” and debuted early December, combats gender based violence by combining art, storytelling and technology.

The interactive multimedia project originated as a reaction to a violent sexual attack on a woman in a New Delhi bus two years ago. The storyline focuses on Priya, an Indian rape survivor forced to live with the redicule and isolation many sexual assault victims in India have to endure. The Goddess Parvati helps Priya to fight back and gather women to take action against women abuse.

“Priya’s Shakti” is composed of an augmented reality comic book, in which parts ‘come to life’ with short documentary videos, animation and educational and historical  information, once the readers scan the page with their cellphone or tablet camera and an app called “Blippar.”Another part of the project is augmented reality street art in various cities across India. Again, by using the camera on a cellphone or a tablet and the app, users can take a picture with Priya and spread the message against gender based violence, using #standwithpriya.

Augmented reality integrates digital information and a user’s environment; it takes an existing picture and adds new information onto it. In “Priya’s Shakti,” testimonials and animations of Indian rape survivors are blended into the comic pages, but that’s not all. The book also has a link to the award winning “Circle of 6” app, a free app created by Nancy Schwartzman and “Tech 4 Good,” which can prevent violence before it happens. The app offers its users the ability to easily call on their friends assistance–a ride home, a needed interruption or advice–to help a person exit unsafe or uncomfortable situations, along with a list of national hotlines to call for help.

The “Priya’s Shakti” comic book is available English, Hindi and Marathi, but with time, will be translated to more languages. “Circle of 6” was also influenced by the surging number of attacks in India and localized the app for the sub-continent using both Hindi and English and a list of national Indian hotlines. The “Priya’s Shakti” comic book, “Circle of 6” and “Blippar” are all free to download on various platforms including for iOS and Android.

India’s smartphone market is growing exponentially, which is what makes “Priya’s Shakti” such a potentially important tool in the fight against gender based violence. It is a creative campaign, utilizing new and exciting technology within a fast growing market introduced to the Indian public for the first time. The high quality and captivating experience of “Priya’s Shakti,” along with the surge in new technology hitting india, could be the catalyst for major impact on Indian society.


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