According to NCRB data, 520 kids all below 6 years of age were survivors of rape i.e. Five Hundred and Twenty. I repeat Five Hundred and Twenty. And if we include all the kids below 18 years, this number rises to 16863 i.e. Sixteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.
- 16863 children will carry these scars for the rest of their lives
- 16863 children may never get justice and may never get a closure
- 16863 children may never get a chance to heal their wounds
- 16863 children and their loved one’s may forever try to move on, only to dragged into with every single incident that makes it to the news headline
- 16863 children may never know what a normal childhood feels like, what growing up feels like
- 16863 children may be living in constant fear for the rest of their lives
22,205 women i.e. Twenty-two thousand two hundred and five women. As these horrific numbers prove, rape crimes are beyond any age groups, beyond any cultural divides, beyond the norms of society – yes beyond the norms of society, since
94.6% of the offenders are known to the rape survivors i.e. Ninety-Four percent of the offenders are known to the rape survivors. Some of the offenders are family members who include grand fathers, fathers, brothers, sons, relatives and neighbours. Not implying everyone is an offender here, but what the data is proving, yet again, year after year, that the offenders are amongst us. They could be from our family, from our neighbourhood, not some random person on the street and not some random person in a desolated place.
So what is the police doing? Well, what can the police do? What can the police do when most of the cases don’t even get reported and even when they are reported, there are so many backlogs, the police can’t possibly afford to investigate the cases.
And what about the courts? Well, its no secret, the courts have been buried with cases pending for several years, in fact, several decades now.
So, what options do we have with we refusing to believe its our problem, the police and the law not having enough fucking resources nor the fucking intent to investigate and bring justice to the cases, the politicians playing fucking politics and then, we, who continue to believe it ain’t our fucking problem, then these statistics would only get fucking worse, leaving our kids and our women to their fucking fate.
Enough of cursing, now time to do something. Sexual harassment has no bounds and no discriminations. Its victims include a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a son, an adult, a boy, a girl, a woman and they are victimized at home, at work, in public places and in isolation.
The worst part of this is the lone fight the survivors of this crime have to put up with. Often, it’s reduced to an individual or a family’s fight, but never the fight of the society they live in. It’s not the sympathy that’s needed, it’s our collective response as a society that’s needed to stand up to this grave crime and support them in their fight to get their lives back.
Our response, the society’s response that is, should not be limited to a blog or a Facebook update or ranting in despair or commenting on news websites. It should somehow be translated into some action or join forces with those who are fighting this on the ground.
Here is what I’m chalking out as a plan and hoping to work with friends in Hyderabad to implement and take this forward.
- If you are a student or alumni – help initiate a conversation with your school/college/university management
- If you are an employee – help initiate a conversation with your employer
- If you are the principal of an educational institution or an employer yourself – then be the first one to take action towards Zero Sexual Harassment
The idea is simple – Create a Zero Sexual Harassment Cell whose primary responsibilities will be (not limited to)
- Create awareness programs at least twice a year within the campus in an effort to sensitize the issue
Of course there is a great potential for such cells to become an access point within the campus to provide legal assistance or financial assistance etc. but that can be Phase II
- Seek permission from colleges/schools in that area and organize a workshop on sexual harassment. Of course, this needs to be catered to the audience
- Run the campaign in these colleges/schools by carrying messages on the notice board, displaying pictures, handing out brochures & leaflets to create more awareness
- Take the campaign to the public offices, the malls, streets
- Do a photo exhibit in public places with pictures of kids playing or smiling basically pictures that could create a good vibe. It’s been proven that the offenders are not necessarily criminals to commit such crime, but act in the spur of a moment or in a fit of rage. Creating an environment with a feel-good factor can help subside such instincts
- Work with local public transportation (private and public) to carry the same pictures and/or messages
- Use RTI to inquire the status of the helpline created by the Police department to help/assist when needed
- Publicize the helpline number using all forms of Media and Communication
- Take up this issue with the local Corporator/MLA/MP to take this issue seriously and help scale the efforts and also get any financial assistance
- Obviously partner with existing NGOs, like-minded individuals or groups and come up with a practical way of addressing this issue where the society can get involved and contribute
- Since this will be in a specific place, the planning and execution will be within our reach
- Depending on the progress of this, this can be implemented in other places as well
How do we talk to the kids about inappropriate touch and make them aware?
Its a 3-minute conversation with the kids about inappropriate touch and what they could do and how they should speak to.
The challenge really is to be consistent and not go to sleep only to wake up when the next incident happens. It’s high time, it’s actually well beyond that and if we don’t wake up from the deep slumber, then we lose the moral ground to even question the offenders and the wrongdoers because it’s our inaction that is working in favour of them. Hence this is not a problem of an individual but rather a problem of the society, a reflection of the society we live in and so the onus is on us to make it safer, happier and equitable.
You can read the full report here Suresh Ediga’s Blog.