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“Abused Goddesses” Campaign Shocks India Using Religious Images To Condemn Domestic Violence

abused goddesses campaign

India is home to one of today’s biggest contradictions. A Hindu country, it has a rich history of revering women in religion and mythology – yet it is one of the most unsafe nations in the world for it’s female citizens (4th most dangerous, according to the U.N.)

Last year alone, 244,270 crimes against women were reported in India. More than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. It’s believed that 100 million Indians, largely women and girls, are victims of human trafficking.  Up to 50 million girls are “missing” over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide. 44.5 percent of girls are married before the age of 18.

And yet, millions of Indians participate in literally hundreds of festivals and activities that celebrate their beloved Goddesses, and credit them with the very gift of life.

Last year, India’s treatment of women gained international attention when a group of men sexually violently assaulted a 23-year-old university student for hours on a moving bus in New Delhi. The attack, which later killed the woman, caused outrage across India and re-ignited conversations about violence against women around the world.  (In response to this tragedy, 600 guitarists gathered to play “Imagine.”)

To hit the population with a campaign where it would hurt most, Ad agency Taproot physically created abuse images using the traditional posters of Hindu goddesses that are worshipped across the country.  They used the very pictures and posters that hang in temples and people’s home, that they pray to daily, and turned them into something that would shock and bring attention to the reality of the domestic violence situation in their country.  To put the campaign in perspective, it would be as shocking as using paintings of Jesus in an ad campaign in America. Agency Taproot created the campaign for non-profit organization Save Our Sisters (SOS*.)  

Featuring the Hindu goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati, the shots show the women in typical serene yet powerful poses. Each goddess bears the scars of physical violence -a graze, black eye, a fat lip and cuts.

*SOS is an initiative of Save the Children India that works to prevent the trafficking of young girls and women for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.
The Campaign:
goddess abuse campaign

Above: Durga, the goddess of good triumphing over evil, sports a black eye and a bloody lip in this image

hindu goddesses anti-violence campaign

Above: This striking image depicts Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as a battered domestic violence victim

Below: Saraswati, goddess of knowledge and arts, also features alongside wealth goddess Lakshmi
india anti-abuse campaign
abused goddesses campaign