We, as individuals, speak volumes about putting an end to, or at least, minimising sexual violence, but our efforts are often as fragile as our memories. With Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein facing the heat after being accused of sexually harassing a dozen women, the hashtag #Metoo seems to have taken the world by storm. The hashtag has thrown light on the fact that it is indeed a daunting task for women to report sexual harassment at workplace, even in countries having strong legislations to counter the problem.

Every day, women are raped, by strangers, by colleagues, by friends, but the problem doesn’t end here. The problem is much bigger than what meets the eye. Women are raped, but the crime isn’t reported. No FIRs, no medical reports, nothing. Instead of fighting the crime and going all guns blazing against it, women remain quiet.  Silence engulfs their minds. Every second day, we come across a story wherein victims do not speak about the misery they’ve faced, right from being touched in their private parts to sweaty palms being pressed against their mouths, the victims are thrown into a web of silence.

Reports state around 80% [i]women (four in every five women) have faced sexual harassment in some form or the other, and yet, only a handful of them come to light. Women don’t report sexual abuse for the fear that it might bring a bad name to the family. A consequent decline in the degree of self-esteem the victim experiences makes reporting sexual abuse all the more difficult. The trauma isn’t only limited to the experience. It intensifies further owing to the stigma and the isolation they’re subjected to.

We need the society to transform its perception towards survivors of sexual assault. In an article published previously, I had stated that victim blaming is still a jarring reality our society does not accept or acknowledge. Victim blaming is perhaps the easiest way of escaping from the entire episode. Blaming the survivor also ends up affecting our willingness to help the survivor.

Right from honour killings to rapes to molestation, it is the girl who suffers.  Right from infancy, girls are taught (rather spoon-fed) to behave in a manner that preserves and keeps the family’s honour intact. ‘What would people say?’ is the million-dollar question girls are asked. Your brother will scold you if you hang-out with boys. Your father will kill you if he sees you dating a guy etc Ours is a society where men take decisions on behalf of women.

‘Honour’ in this case is nothing but a way of curtailing women and confining them to societal conventions. The society we live in is equally responsible for this. We live in a society where girls are taught how to sit ‘properly’, but not once, are boys taught how to see ‘properly ’. Instead of teaching girls how to sit properly, parents should perhaps teach their children to behave. Teach children not to cross certain lines. Encourage children to nurture a healthy attitude towards sex and the opposite gender.

Social media campaigns and outbursts condemning sexual harassment and assault keep coming and going. Frankly, no social media campaign is strong enough to uproot the problem. There are many who do not know what this outburst on social media means and they keep treating women as a ‘second fiddle’.

Lastly,  people need to come forward in order to break the ice around sex and everything related to it. It is not something one needs to be shy of and neither it is something which should remain enclosed within the length and breadth of a bedroom. Sex and sexuality should be treated as an integral part and parcel of our life rather than something that is confined within four walls. That can surely be our first step in our bid to showcase sexuality positively.

[i] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/four-out-of-5-indian-women-are-sexually-harassed-in-public-places-actionaid-uk-survey-2826584/

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