Why it is important to report sexual violence?

Sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual abuse, all of these terms refer to one heinous crime which is not only despicable but also unacceptable for humankind. It should not be mistaken only for rape. Sexual violence is a kind of physical or psychological violence which disturbs the sexual integrity of the victim. The victims suffer traumatic experiences all through their lives be it social, physical or psychological.

The perpetrator can be a stranger as well as someone very close to the victim. According to the 2013 statistics of National Crime Records Bureau, out of all the reported sexual crimes in India, 98% of them were committed by someone known to the victim (source:NCRB)

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The victims often prefer to hide the sexual assault because of fear, humiliation and negative social attitudes towards them. The perpetrators attack their victims irrespective of their sex. Men or boys do not report sexual assault cases because it will affect their masculinity and nobody is going to believe them. These are main reasons why most of the cases of sexual violence go unreported.

Not reporting sexual violence is an individual's rational decision but one should consider their following rights and possibilities before taking a decision.

Medical Treatment
If victims are going to keep the sexual violence against them a secret to themselves without telling anyone, they are denying themselves medical help as well. The first and foremost attention they would probably need, is the medical attention. They should, at least, report the incident to the doctor to seek medical examination if the assault has affected their body against any sexually transmitted disease, physical damage or any unwanted pregnancy.

Not to forget that the medical examination should be conducted by RMP (Registered Medical Practitioner) employed in a hospital run by Government. An RMP cannot conduct examination without the victim's consent. The Supreme Court of India has also adjudicated that police confiscation is not required to conduct medical examination.

The controversial "Two Finger test" has been denied by the Supreme Court of India and thus, cannot be used against rape survivor's test of ‘habituation to sexual intercourse’. This test has been ruled out due to its unscientific and inhuman approach.

Not letting it happen to others
The victims should report it to the police considering the fact that the attacker can attack someone else too. Reporting the sexual violence would result in removing the perpetrator from the society or at least would put him in a position where he cannot cause harm to anyone else. It is going to empower the victim because the perpetrator would have assumed the victim is going to remain silent and would not report it to anyone. He can continue committing the crime and intimidating his victims.

The victim should not consider cultural and social hindrances in going forward and reporting it by not letting the abuser hurt anyone else in the future. They shouldn't be rather called victims but survivors who come out of the assault bravely and fight against the crime. It has been bravely quoted by a famous Indian social activist, Ms. Sunitha Krishnan, who herself was gang-raped by eight men when she was 15 and works towards rescuing and rehabilitating sexual violence victims into the society:

"Society makes you feel cheap. I chose not to feel like a victim. I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I speak about it with a lot of pride, because I am proud of what I have become today. I have not done a mistake. I don't want my face to blurred. I am not to be ashamed for. The guys that have done it should be hiding their faces and they should be blurring their faces." 

Sexual attacks can leave the victims with psychological disturbances which may affect their social life. Confiding with someone closer and reporting them about the sexual violence attacks can be helpful in reviving interpersonal behaviour after the trauma. There are many social counselling and therapy centres in India where victims can receive rehabilitation, protection and treatment. The newest ones are "Nirbhaya Crisis Centres" named after New Delhi gang-rape victim, Nirbhaya. These centres are proposed to be opened in all states of India and union territories by Government of India. Swabhiman and Swanchetan are some other foundations in India who help victims of sexual violence to restore their rights. There are so many programmes in place worldwide to ensure women's safety and defending them against any voilence through various aids. Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), I'm Worth Defending (IWD) and World Organization Against Torture (WOAT) to name a few.

"Silence is the best answer" as we always say before retaliating but it should not be labelled as "a survival technique". When mind is going through trauma, victims should not consider silence as the only solution for social-implications of the attack. Reporting the crime should be the better choice. Let's not just stay alive and let the memories of the assault fade into the past.

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.


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