Crimes against women have been rising without any check and it’s a shame that the capital city is among the front runners. It is time to wake up and start fighting in our own capacity without waiting for something to happen to someone known to us. The least we can do is being aware ourselves first. The first misconception that we must strive to dilute is that sexual abuse is not always rape. The mere obscene gesture or language amounts to sexual assault. Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code describes sexual assault in detail which has been divided into 4 subsections, namely:—
354 A: Sexual harassment which includes—
- physical contact and advances involving explicit sexual overtures; or
- demand or request for sexual favors; or
- showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
- making sexually colored remarks.
354 B: Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe.
354 C: Voyeurism-Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act.
354 D: Stalking or following a woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman.
It is important because even voyeurism and stalking falls under its ambit and are liable for punishment. Rape cases are only the tip of the iceberg and incidents like these forms the bulk of sexual assault cases which if reported and penalized will drastically reduce the number of severe cases.
3 reasons why it is important to encourage reporting sexual violence:-
1. Because it is the right thing to do, because staying back will only encourage the criminals to take a step further and each of their steps will bring them closer to the innocent.
2. Because each case reported will raise the possibility of getting them prosecuted. It’s a pity that many of such criminals walk right through our ailing judicial system but it is all the more reason to nab them. Recently, the Delhi high court refused to rule on extending the three-year stay in reform home of the juvenile convicted in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder of the paramedical student #Nirbhaya. Yes, he will walk free even after being part of one of the most heinous crimes of modern times in Delhi so buckle up.
3. Most importantly, because we need to create an environment where criminals and not women live in fear. Fear of police, prosecution and punishment will help create a protective shield around the women. The criminals should bear the brunt of social stigma and not the victims. But in today’s times the identity and dignity of rape victims is raped again and again in public media and the criminals are being protected. It is this discrimination that we have to fight. However, it is not only the victim’s responsibility, but the onus lies on each one of us to stand together with the victims and make them feel strong and safe and keep the movement against sexual abuse alive.
" मैं नारी हूँ मैं सबला हूँ, समरूप हूँ मैं पर हीन नहीं,
आकाश में उड़ना है मुझको, पर नसीब मुझे क्यूँ ज़मीन नहीं ;
इन आँसुओं पे ना जाना तुम,
के प्रगाढ़ हूँ मैं, गमगीन नहीं ;
दरकार नहीं सहारे की मुझे,
के शोषण से टकराए जो, बलवान वही-और वीर वही ;
बात इतनी सी है, गर समझ पाए कोई,
के तुम मुझसे हो मैं तुमसे हूँ , और एकाकी हम फ़रदीन नहीं ;
एकाकी हम फ़रदीन नहीं..."