Daring ads take on violence against women in India

9 Sep

Taproot India Abused Goddess face

As an unabashed lover of India, I’ve watched with dismay as the tales of violence against women have chiefly occupied the headlines coming out of the country this year.

In 2011, there were 244,270 reports of violence against women. You’re reading that correctly. (Source)

No doubt there’s a lot being done on the ground: public demonstrations, lobby groups, action in the courts. There’s also this remarkable ad campaign done by Taproot India on behalf of Save our Sisters.

Violence against women India goddess

Violence against women in India ad

Violence against women in India ad lion

The campaign, entitled Abused Goddesses, bravely puts three central Hindu goddesses, Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati, to work to condemn the country’s domestic and sexual violence against its women.

By depicting facial wounds on the goddesses, Save our Sisters is telling their community that the problem is so expansive, no woman is safe any more. Not your mother or your sister or your daughter. Not even the gods.

Raising public awareness is critical, but it’s hard to imagine that this campaign, no matter how strong, will reach those men who somehow missed out on the national and global outrage at recent gang rapes.

The campaign brings to mind the headline from a stunning poster I saw in Vancouver in the 1990s:

One in four women will be sexually assaulted

Powerful stuff.



14 Responses to “Daring ads take on violence against women in India”

  1. Paige September 9, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    “In 2011, there were 244,270 reports of violence against women.” And many that were not reported. I’m glad to see such a powerful message. Sadly, you’re right that many men will not change their behavior or beliefs, but maybe it’s a sign of better things to come for India’s future generations.

    • Doug Brown September 9, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      Correct Paige, those reported assaults were surely the tip of the iceberg. According to StatsCan, Canada had 173,600 reports of violence against women during the same year. And our population is 35 times smaller. I would suggest we own no high ground here. This is a global crisis. I like the way you envision the long-term progress. It may be that a generational leap will be necessary.

  2. hotelgoddess September 9, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Violence against women (and others) is not accepted anywhere. India is putting on a brave face and commencing these ads; – several other countries, including Canada need to follow suit.

    • Doug Brown September 9, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      I personally feel that any advertising has to engage men, pull them into the conversation and push them to take that message out. I want to see a follow-up campaign that holds the male gods accountable for this outrageous insult to humanity.

      • hotelgoddess September 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

        Of course, agreed. Have you seen this headline today? http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/yemen-child-marriage-human-rights-519066

      • Doug Brown September 10, 2013 at 3:30 am #

        It’s hard to fathom such behaviour. I noted that Islamic lawmakers repealed the 17-year old age limit for girls to marry, calling it “un-Islamic”. So you have Muslims using their god to promote the behaviour that Hindus are attempting to end with theirs.

      • hotelgoddess September 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        My husband is Muslim and thinks this is deplorable! He’s unaware of anyone in his lifetime or neighbourhood having instilled such ridiculous age “standards”. Often it is interpreted, as with other religions, according to their cultural and community values / beliefs…if you want to call them that….

      • Doug Brown September 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

        I worked in Indonesia for several years Angela and found an entirely different view of Islam there. As with all religions, interpretation determines much. Thanks for making the conversation more interesting!

      • Reclaiming Lost Voices October 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

        I agree with you Doug! Great point. I would like to see not just more conversation, but more action with men.

      • Doug Brown October 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

        Ruth, it saddens me to see that it’s inevitably women who are left to protest male behaviour that diminishes us all.

  3. Maureen Blaseckie September 9, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Violence towards women and violence in general is such a complex issue but the result is very basic. I think that is what I like about this campaign. It takes the first step to move the discussion past the theory and into the light of day.
    I disagree with you, however, in thinking the people it targets will be oblivious to an advertising campaign based on images. This is a culture where iconography is taken much more seriously. Localized riots still break out based on religious issues dating back 500 years.
    It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few months and years.
    Keep us posted, Doug.


    • Doug Brown September 9, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      It sure would be interesting to witness public reaction to these ads and the discussions that might flow from them. Let’s hope their real success lies not in the international award shows but in the reframing of the issue.
      Thanks for the thoughts Moe.

  4. thatguylam September 11, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Thanks for sharing these, Doug. Makes me wonder what the impact would be for us here if we depicted Mary like this (should we get an AD on that?…).

    • Doug Brown September 11, 2013 at 11:10 am #

      What a great test that would be Lam!

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