The Common Good

Abused Hindu Goddesses Recall Violence Against Women

A new public campaign in India uses powerful images of three Hindu goddesses with bruised faces to raise awareness about violence against women.

Goddess Saraswati with a bruised face. Photo via RNS/Hindustantimes

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The ad campaign is titled “Abused Goddesses” and portrays the beaten faces of three Hindu female deities: Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi.

“Today more than 68 percent of women in India are victims of domestic violence,” the caption reads. “Tomorrow it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to,” the posters say. “Pray that we never see this day.”

The ads were created to raise funds for Save Our Sisters, an initiative of Save the Children India that “works to prevent the trafficking of young girls and women for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation,” according to the organization’s website.

“SOS also works as an advocacy group that sensitizes stakeholders such as the police, magistrates, tourism boards, and other government officials.”

The posters include an emergency hotline people can use if they are the victim of abuse or have information about a case.

A Mumbai-based advertising agency, Taproot India, created the posters.

The firm won awards for its use of costumed female models photographed in traditional hand-painted Hindu renditions of the three goddesses.

Makeup artists added cosmetic touches to the models before they were photographed, to depict cuts and bruises on their faces.

Saraswati (also spelled Sarasvati) is the goddess of knowledge, music and art and is frequently portrayed playing a long, stringed sitar-like instrument. Durga is Lord Shiva’s divine spouse. She rides a tiger, and her multiple hands carry a conch shell and various weapons. Lakshmi is portrayed with lotus blossoms and gold coins.  She can help people attain goals, money and spiritual enlightenment.

Violence against women in India has been a serious problem for decades, and concern was heightened by the gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, 23, on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.

Fresh cases of violence against women frequently occur across the country, though many attacks are not reported to police.

More than 244,000 cases of violence against  women were reported to authorities during 2012, according to the BBC.

Richard S. Ehrlich writes for Religion News Service. Via RNS.

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