When will we stop the rape in India?

ElsaMarie DSilva
Posted March 31, 2018 from India

This story was first published in SheThePeople.

I am reeling from a series of recent terrible news: A 28-year-old raping his 8-month-old baby cousin; a man raping his 15-year-old house maid in front of his family; and a group of men pulling a 22-year-old woman out of her parked car and raping her in front of her family. A few days ago, a 6 year old died after suspected sexual assault. These incidents show the worst side of humans.

Even though five years have passed since Jyoti Singh was gang raped on a bus in Delhi causing huge public outrage, we still hear of gruesome crimes against babies, young girls, women or even old ladies! Sometimes the stories are so overwhelming, that one wonders if we can even push the needle on the issue.

Yet, we must not give up and we must push forward. If each of us does these five things, maybe in a decade sexual violence will be a thing of the past.

Treat women and girls with respect and not as commodities. Today, we still live in a world where women and girls are seen as commodities and tools to be used, either to be traded in marriage or worse still, as an income earner for her body.

Bring up your sons and daughters equally. Give your daughters the right to speak up and be heard. Allow her to explore her true potential and not impose your own restrictions on her movement, education, career and life’s choices.

Check your sons for toxic masculinity. We cannot continue with the hypocritical standard of “Boys will be boys” and excusing “locker room” talk. Toxic masculinity, misogyny and patriarchy are all contributors to sexual violence and pressurises men and boys to conform to its weak standards whilst making it difficult to challenge their bro-culture. But if you encourage and educate them at an early age to be sensitive, gender inclusive and empathetic, we might have a different culture amongst men.

Condemn all forms of violence and be an active bystander. Many of us turn a blind eye, not wanting to intervene lest we interfere in private matters. However, on its own, violence is not going to disappear. Prevention of it has to be part of the design of policies of government and organisations and in our collective active conscience.

Report sexual violence. We need data and statistics to push for accountability. Whilst each case is shocking and merits action, unfortunately it gets lost in the overload of “news”. It is only when confronted with the enormity of the situation through data and facts, that governments and institutions are more likely to react and make the change.

My organisation and many others conduct various workshops on prevention of sexual violence and awareness of legal rights. Many participants have found it useful to attend these sessions because it helps them think through the spectrum of sexual violence, understand the legislation under which their rights are protected and redressal mechanisms available to them. Several of them have reported back on how they could no longer silently accept harassment and gave them courage to call out their perpetrator or seek redressal. Most of the men attending these sessions have committed to intervening when they witness such harassment and also counselling their colleagues on potential behaviour that could be termed as harassment. These are concrete ways in which we are engaging people to be agents of change and break the culture of silence around sexual harassment.

If you have any further suggestions on how we can tackle this problem, I would love to hear from you. Let’s use the current momentum of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns to push for a better, safer and more inclusive world. 

Comments 7

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Mar 31, 2018
Mar 31, 2018

It's disheartening dear sister. The solution lies in every home. Training of our children will help to reduce the menace. Home training is highly recommended. Train a child the way she or he should go.....
Thanks for sharing your solutions. Your organization is doing wonderful.

Jill Langhus
Mar 31, 2018
Mar 31, 2018

Hi ElsaMarie. Thanks for sharing your amazing story, passion, and five things we all could do to make this world a better and safer place. I totally agree with you. I would love to see your app in all the major, global cities first, and then all less major cities shortly thereafter. If the majority of people had your Safecity tracker app, and were actively reporting incidents and do the five things above, I think a decade is a doable goal for ending sexual violence. I'm going to share your story on my Twitter and FB. Thanks again! Keep up the good work!!!!

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 02, 2018
Apr 02, 2018

Dear Elsamarie,

You have laid out excellent points for what can and must be done to stop the ongoing violence. It can be discouraging, especially learning about young men carrying out the same violence, and men of all ages still assuming they have the right. We are creating change, and I do believe that despite the daily news in all of our countries that women and girls continue to be violated, we are being taken more seriously, we are finding each other in greater numbers, and the momentum has never been this strong. Keep writing, publishing and speaking out, dear sister. We are able now to know we are everywhere working to make this change happen.

In sisterhood,

Dec 17, 2018
Dec 17, 2018

Ooh this is so horrible! He went away free again... This is always the norm. They never get the punishment they deserved.

Sad :-(!

Bettina Amendi
Jan 27, 2019
Jan 27, 2019

What a sad story to narrate and imagine,Elsamarie you opened my eyes.
2019 has great tidings,waiting on you for more.

Jane Frances Mufua
Mar 06, 2019
Mar 06, 2019

Thanks for sharing with us, Keep the good work going

Theresa Takafuma
Mar 15, 2019
Mar 15, 2019

Rape stories always break my heart. Our children need to be trained to be better people. We should commit to raising a generation that respects others; women, children and all other vulnerable groups. It is upon us to raise our voices and never stop talking about it wherever we are. Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. One step at a time, we will get there.