A recent survey by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan came up with some really disturbing statistics. It was found that 95 percent of the cases of sexual violence against women and children still go unreported in the country.
Ashif Shaikh, convenor at Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, shared, “We found out that most women don’t end up reporting sexual violence because they don’t receive support from their families and friends and because they fear social stigma.”
To add to it, out of the 1,150 people who shared that they had been sexually assaulted, 78 percent were minors when the incidents took place and in 64 percent of those cases, the abuser was a known to the victim.
In response to the shocking findings of the survey and to create awareness about the stigma faced by the survivors that forces them to stay quiet, a ‘Dignity March’ has been planned, for which approximately 5000 survivors have come together.
Organised by the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, the 65-day-march will see sexual violence survivors cover a distance of 10,000 km across 24 states in the country along with their families.
Speaking about the march, Shaikh shared, “We want the survivors to talk to people in these cities, share their stories in the hope of helping people open up about their experience, and even initiate legal action if necessary.”
Women like Bhanwari Devi, Urmila Devi, and Janki Bai, whose cases made it big to the country’s news scene as they decided to fight for justice, are all set to participate in the march. Bhanwari Devi, the woman hailed as the mother of India’s #MeToo movement by many and the reason behind the formation of the Vishakha Guidelines, has struggled all her life to see her rapists punished. Through the march, she wants to create awareness about the social stigma that a survivor of sexual violence has to face in India.
Devi said, “The key purpose of this yatra is that we want people to listen to us. We want justice and for that we will shake everyone (authorities) up till we receive our justice.”
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.