By Simran Bhaskar
“If today you decide to raise your voice, it will encourage hundreds of young girls to raise theirs.”
One in every nine girl under the age of 18 experienced sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. Females in the age bracket of 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
The horrific data like these, are increasing day by day and society in twenty first century , is still concerened of what others will think rather than being caring about the victims. The families are criticizing the victims especially women/girls for behaviour of the abuser which is a prominent reason of why cases are not reported while the abusers roam freely. As said, a major reason for non-reporting of cases is the lack of support from the families and friends. We as a society always locate the onus on the victims for being at fault and to break this stereotype we (I and Vrinda) created Project Blue Ribbon. It is a youth-led organization that aims to raise awareness of Child Maltreatment. The journey of Project Blue Ribbon started when I read a news , where a mother of 3 months old was seeking help from the fellow parents as her baby girl’s photo was uploaded at a porn site followed by atrocious and nasty comments. Lack of moral consciousness, humanity shocked us. We were surprised that our society is filled with such pedophiles and that the government has been utter failure in curbing such incident and it is this failure what gives the abuser the power to dominate girls and women and treat them as their property.
The fact that three out of four girl child in India suffers from abuse at the hands of parents, caregivers, and family members, was appalling and triggered us to work for victims. This is where we started a series ‘Talk with survivors’ where we reach out to the survivors and hear their story and how they recovered from it. Through this series our single motive has been to be the voice of survivors who otherwise or due to fear choose not to come forward. We share their stories; give it a platform so that the offender can be brought to justice. In the last 3 months, we have had conversations with many survivors, and what shocked us the most was that the cases of abuse were not done by some unknown person but the family members and close family friends. Through our talk series we are trying to educate children and parents about sex education and the importance of it in today’s world.
Every passing day we hear that some girl/women have been raped or assaulted in some part of India and the girl is named the ‘Next Nirbhaya.’Social media gets flooded by such news but people fail to acknowledge that, Nirbhya got justice after 8 years of fighting. Similarly in September of 2020, Hathras Rape Case came into the limelight, and the social media was all hyped up but again after a week, people failed to acknowledge seriousness behind the case. The public outrage over such incidents have been momentarily and the actual road to justice way too long!
Every year on 8th March we celebrate Women’s Day but fail to acknowledge that how every single day is like a challenge for us, a challenge of not being assaulted or mocked at or raped. It is a perpetual fear which is felt by every woman of the country. The fear of getting attacked, or being called Next Nirbhaya, or being domestically abused almost cripples us. The fear of rejecting someone can make a woman the Next Laxmi or the fear of being alone with a male friend can make us the Next Nirbhaya or standing against Female Genital Mutilation can make us a person who does not respect their religion. Women’s Day is not about celebrating a single day for women it should be about treating us equally and with the same dignity that any human deserves. The only way we can celebrate women’s day is by standing alongside women and encourage them to fight for their rights.
Let’s take a pledge this Women’s Day to help women raise their voices so that we don’t become the “Next.” Let us help all women to share their stories and educate people about basic things like consent, respect and gratitude. Let’s teach our children and parents, the importance of sex education and how it plays an important role in building one’s life which is shown in many pieces of research.
I hope in 2021 no girl/women become the NEXT!!
(The writer is a Law Student at School of Law, UPES, Dehradun)
The opinion expressed in this article are author’s personal views.
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 David Finkelhor, Anne Shattuck, Heather A. Turner, & Sherry L. Hamby, The Lifetime Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Assessed in Late Adolescence, 55 Journal of Adolescent Health 329, 329-333 (2014)
 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders (1997).