Sunday, December 20, 2015

To report or not – That is the question.

The year before last, I was in Mumbai and had gone to a completely new area, to interview police constables for a college assignment. (There has to be irony in here somewhere!) After, and since it was late and both my friend and I had more than our share of work to do, my friend dropped me to the nearest local station. Since the major part of the assignment was done, (the interview), I was much more relaxed than I should have been, and as usual, I put on my earphones and started listening to music, rather loudly I guess. A few minutes later I saw two elder females pointing and whispering to something behind me, bringing me back to “reality”. A man was standing there, gradually coming nearer or seemed like it, at least, so obviously, I decided to move away, and that was when I realised he was really drunk and saw that his trouser was open (read unzipped)!

Like most females, even I have been eve teased, cat-called, been a victim (of attempts) to public groping and whatnot. Anyway, the open pant thing was a first for me and for two minutes I didn’t even know what to do! Luckily for me, just then, a police constable was passing by and saw the whole incident and quickly hit him 3-4 times with his 'lathi' before asking me if I was alright. The local train pulled in by then and after telling him I was fine, I got on and left, wondering the entire way about what it was that I should have done.

When I got home, I talked to a friend about it and realised that it was the closest railway station to the red light district of Mumbai, and such incidents had happened there before.

Now to clarify as to why I didn’t go to the police station to file a report against him, I guess I was just too scared, not of the man, but the police, always have been, partly because of my past and partly because somewhere I guess I was worried that I might be blamed, it's happened before after all, why would it have been any different than any other time? Even my friend had started to scold me for being there, alone and that too at that late an hour!

Anyway, to talk about the bigger issue at hand, sexual abuse, even though highlighted the maximum through Delhi media, is a worldwide issue. I don’t know if the assaults are increasing day-by-day or the media is highlighting such cases the most, (maybe it’s both), but the fact remains that it is happening all around us, every day.

Another fact of the matter is that most of the crimes go unreported. There are countless reasons for not reporting such crimes, maybe because of the hassle involved or the victim fears negative publicity or maybe it’s the lack of support from victim's friends and family, or it’s just that people are unaware of basic rights in such cases.

Whatever the case maybe, it is said that reporting sexual violence generates awareness about such situations and helps in making stricter laws for better protection. However, I don’t believe that anyone will report a case of sexual abuse only for this purpose. Reporting a crime, any crime, no matter how difficult it might be, will eventually lead to self-empowerment, and bring about confidence and freedom which can only come by ascertaining one's rights. So my advice, report such cases for your own sake, that is if the sentence - if somebody had reported this man before, then this might not have happened to me - doesn't appeal to your sense of justice.

In an effort to educate and inform people of their basic rights, Amnesty International launched the #KnowYourRights campaign earlier this year and now they are scaling up this initiative, through the power of social media and asking bloggers to think of reasons as to why survivors of sexual violence should come forward to report the crime and not brush it under the carpet.

“I’m writing this blog post to support Amnesty International’s#KnowYourRights campaign at BlogAdda. You can also contribute to the cause by donating or spreading the word.”

To know more about it, do watch the following video.


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