Battered and Beaten: Hindu Goddesses Raise Awareness for Indian Women

Posted on September 27, 2013 by

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Something to look at when critically reviewing the arts of Hindu people is to look at the paintings of their deities. The ones I want to focus on are well-known pictures that have been given recent additions. This September, a group called Save Our Sisters has added bruises and scars to paintings of Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati, three female goddesses in the Hindu faith. They did this to raise awareness in regards to the rising rate of the abuse of women and sex trafficking, specifically in India.

I think the religious ideas in this sort of advertising play an important role. With the majority of the Indian people being Hindu in their modern culture, the paintings are very well known. Therefore the campaign has received high traffic. It makes it possible for the group, SOS, to reach and gain empathy from a much larger group of people than if they were to make television ads and other posters without such well known figures. I know I personally tend to ignore the ads on TV because they tend to feature generic images and themes that we see everywhere. On the other hand, something jarring and impactful like a picture of Jesus Christ shooting people in the head would capture my attention. I might look twice at where this picture came from and wonder about this marketing tactic.

The pictures are also out in the open for a lot of people to see. The group has caught the attention of international media, making their message very well known throughout the world. A lot of support seems to be on its way as the pictures become viral on the Internet. There are also groups of people that think this is a misguided attempt to gain empathy through religious figures, a technique not that uncommon to governments in the world. One individual who feels this way is Praneta Jha, who wrote an article about the campaign for the Hindustan Times. She states that the campaign is misguided comparing modern women to goddesses. “Women are not goddesses, Hindu or otherwise. Domestic violence is a reality that affects human beings,” she states. Jha makes a good point; women of today are not goddesses.

Where I see the article heading in the wrong direction is this idea that SOS is trying to portray women as goddesses. She says, “What is the underlying message this campaign is trying to convey anyway? Do not hit women because they are goddesses? Are women worthy of respect and humane treatment because goddesses are worshipped? What about the women who do not display the presumed qualities of a revered goddess?” This is not their attempt at all. The attempt of the organization is to try to make people aware of the horrendous crimes of abusing women and sex trafficking taking place in India and in turn, find a way to fight back against this tradition. When I say tradition, I refer to men having had the privilege of being allowed to beat their wives all throughout history, both in India and in the rest of the world. In India specifically, men are seen as the head of the house and as such, reserve any right to beat their wives with no punishment. It is their right from god being that they are the head of the house. I believe that through this campaign, SOS is attempting to create a cultural discussion about the ongoing problem of abuse and sex trafficking through a medium that will speak to a large group of people.

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/indias-incredibly-powerful-abused-goddesses-campaign-condemn (pictures)

 

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/13/abused-hindu-goddesses-recall-violence-against-women/

 

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Entertainment/Art/Abused-or-not-women-are-not-goddesses/Article1-1120030.aspx

 

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