Mumbai: Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan along with several like-minded development sector partners today announced a unique initiative, The Dignity March, a sixty-five-day touring national march aimed at ending sexual violence against women and children. Starting on 20th December, 2018 from Mumbai, the Dignity March will see survivors and other stakeholders travel 10,000 KM in 200 districts of 24 States/UTs in India, culminating on 22nd February, 2019 in Delhi. The kick-off from Mumbai will see the participation of over 5000 survivors and their family members.
The aim of the Dignity March is to end the victim shaming of women and children who are survivors of sexual violence and shift the social humiliation on to perpetuators and for other stakeholders to create a healthy, non-judgmental and safe environment to support their voice, to fight on their behalf.
The Dignity March is rooted in a national online survey conducted by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a survivor focused organization. The survey, ‘Speak Out!’ was conducted to determine the intensity of sexual violence against women and children and to bring out the voice of the survivors. The survey revealed that an alarming number of people have faced sexual violence, but 95% of the incidents of sexual violence against women and children are not reported, and the ‘victim’ is shamed and is under constant fear of stigmatization by the society. This also reveals that the government data of incidents of sexual violence against women and children is less valid as the survey suggests that 2% of incidents have been reported to the Police.
Speaking on the Dignity March, Ashif Shaikh of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, said “This is a response to what is happening around us. It is time to speak up, end victim shaming and shift the blame, by holding society and the state accountable towards punitive action against the perpetrator, through effective implementation of legal guidelines, and ensuring rehabilitation facilities for survivors. This is only possible if we break the silence surrounding sexual rape and sexual violence and demand accountability and justice.”
Several prominent members of the society have come forward to show solidarity to the event, who include Tisca Chopra, Sudha Chandran, Ms. Laxmi Agarwal (Stop Acid Attacks), Ms. Bhanwari Devi, activist and survivor of gang rape, Ms. Vidya Shah, CEO, EdelGive Foundation, Ms. Svati Bbhatkal from Satyamev Jayate, PM Nair, IPS (Retd), Former DGP, NDRF and Jayna Kothari, Center for Law and Policy Research.
1. Create an environment to end victim shaming in 24 states and 200 districts.
2. More than 50,000 survivors of rape and sexual abuse feel motivated and confident to continue their fight to claim justice, relief and rehabilitation.
3. Create a network of support and solidarity between victims, families, stakeholders.
4. Public initiatives for justice and rehabilitation for survivors.
5. Reform for a comprehensive socio-medico-legal relief and rehabilitation of Survivors’ in the policies.
1. Building a National Network of Survivors, family members and other stakeholders across 200 districts and 24 states/UTs and 200 districts across the country.
2. Triggering Dialogue with the Socio-Medico-Legal support system, to enhance their capacity to deal with issues of rape and sexual violence.
3. Policy Engagement at local, state and national level for effective implementation of protocols, improved budget allocation and developing and monitoring the system towards a comprehensive approach to address sexual violence against women and children.
4. Public Engagement by getting the attention of media to do comprehensive reportage of issues related to rape and sexual violence.
1. Meetings with the survivors, their families and the larger community: To trigger conversations around rape, sexual violence, child sexual abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children and trafficking meetings will be conducted with the survivors, their families and the larger community in 200 districts across the country.
2. State-level stakeholders meetings: 24 state-level meetings will be held with different stakeholders to sensitize them on issue of rape and sexual violence. These will culminate in a set of recommendations for better implementation and monitoring of law and policies.
3. Awareness and sensitization programmes: To be held in different locations with students, lawyers and medical professionals highlighting the challenges and gaps they face daily and dealing with issue of rape and sexual violence.
4. Survivors’ Convention at the State-level: Convention of survivors will be organised to discuss patterns in cases related to violence against women and children and to provide immediate legal assistance and guidance.
5. Resource material: Distribution of resource material targeted at different stakeholders to help deal with issue of violence against women and children. The aim is to spread awareness and equip different stakeholders with updated protocols, guidelines, government policies, law and schemes, toll free helpline numbers and short videos and posters talking about their roles and responsibility in dealing with case of rape and sexual violence.