[Trigger Warning (TW): mentions of r*pe, ass*ult, vi*lence. If these topics might trigger you, please please do not continue reading.]
April is sexual assault awareness month so here’s my contribution.
Yes, I’m scared. Take a look around you- the girls and women of India are terrified. Every single day we pick up the newspaper or turn on the television to see the same headlines but with new names- another girl raped, another woman murdered.
How are women supposed to feel safe when a man can murder a woman in broad daylight while people choose to watch and record the horrific scene but don’t interfere?
How are we supposed to feel safe when we live in constant fear of being kidnapped, assaulted, raped and murdered?
What are we supposed to feel when we read headlines about 11-year-old boys raping a 5-year-old girl?
How do we know that we won’t be the next name on the news?
We walk on eggshells around men because who knows when one might be offended and take it too far? Whom can we trust when we hear stories of friends doing the worst things to their friends?
We’re taught to cover up, be home before dark, not talk to boys, clutch our keys between our fingers, carry pepper spray, check the backseats before getting in our cars, share our locations when we go out, not go to parties, not to ‘lead them on’, and so much more.
We are made to believe that these things happen to us, instead of them being done by someone. The active perpetrator is not held guilty but the passive victim is.
Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are so deeply ingrained in our society and culture that these have become instincts- the natural way to react and feel.
“It’s your fault, you were wearing a skirt. You practically invited him in.”
So yes, all of us are terrified and we don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.
The situation needs to improve immediately. So what can we do to make it better?
- Talk to your friends and the females around you and make them feel safe. Make sure this conversation is friendly and reassuring.
- The perpetrators and monsters are people among us. Talk to people you know and stop them before they are too far gone.
- Teach your children and siblings the right values. Learning starts at home- set the right example.
- Exposure to graphic and sexual media (on the internet or at home) at too young an age can and will leave a considerable impression- most often negative. Control and regulate what your children are being exposed to on the internet.
- Listen to people’s experiences and stories patiently. Don’t blame them and make them understand that what they went through is not their fault.
- Actively try to educate yourself and spread awareness. There are many social media accounts aiming to do exactly that. One of them is “Yellow Sash”, an activist account on Instagram started by me and my friends recently. You can follow us here.
Some important links: