Recently the Save the Children India organization teamed up with Indian ad agency Taproot to bring awareness their Save Our Sisters initiative, which works to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of girls and women. Taproot recreated traditional scenes of beautiful Hindu goddesses, Saraswati, Durga, and Lakshmi – these are images that can be found all over the country and are known by heart to the Hindu population (over 85% of Indians practice Hinduism). There is one drastic difference with these depictions – the goddesses faces have been badly bruised and beaten. The campaign declares, “Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.”
These faces are impossible to ignore. In short, the Abused Goddesses campaign is brilliant because:
It points out the irony of the sexual exploitation and abuse of Indian women against the reverence of female deities in Hinduism, the most popular religion in the country. 244,270 crimes against women were reported last year .
Using bold religious imagery forces people to pay attention. Whether people agree with it or not, this campaign forces a conversation around domestic violence and the trafficking of women and girls. It was risky, controversial, and demanded attention. For a little perspective, imagine if in the United States, Christian images were altered and used to confront a social issue like this. I would imagine it would go viral and create serious backlash – but it would get people talking.
The images combine art with reality. The images are beautiful and realistic looking. They are direct and explicit: this is what domestic abuse looks like on Indian women, important Indian women.
Here is the rest of the campaign – it is incredible.
Durga, goddess of strength and invincibility
Lakshmi, goddess of wealth
-Marina (guest blogger)
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