The world is changing. And so are our heroes. Meet Priya, a tiger-riding, evil vanquishing superheroine from India. No more of the cliched “knight in shining amour”. This comic crusader is someone girls from the subcontinent can look up to and feel empowered. The first launch of the series was in December of 2014, exactly 2 years after the gruesome gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi.
Priya: The Origin Story
The first edition, Priya’s Shakhti, shows the origin story of Priya. She is a humble girl from a quaint village in India. In a horrible turn of events, Priya gets raped by men of her village. When she informs her family of the ordeal, her family shuns and ostracizes her. Instead of serving justice, the village elders blame her for provoking the men. Scared and lost, Priya flees to the forest to end her life. The goddess Parvati sees her plight and offers her retribution. Together, they confront the rapists and put an end to sexual violence. Priya, with her newfound powers, goes on to stop sexual violence and battle the stigma around rape and rape victims.
Priya And The Lost Girls: The Plot
In the second edition, Priya’s Mirror, Priya joins forces with acid-attack victims to combat acid attack on women. The third edition picks off right after. Priya returns home and finds that there are no girls left in her village. They have been trapped by the powerful sex-trafficker Rahu, an evil demon who runs an underground brothel. Priya mounts her flying tiger, Sahas, and approaches Rahu’s den. Like all superheroes, she fights the evil demon and defeats him. All the women who were forced to work as sex-workers were freed.
What is interesting is the fact the writer and creator, Ram Devineni, portrays the real challenge that most superhero comics do not; the societal scorn and stigma against sex-workers. He effectively shows how the current society makes it difficult for victims of sex-trafficking to integrate back into normal life.
Storytelling is a very powerful tool. A story can help to change people’s hearts and shape their minds. The Priya comic series effectively addresses how survivors of sexual assault and violence are treated in society, especially in the Indian subcontinent. The core message is, the shame belongs to the attacker and not the survivor.