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“Walk for Dignity”- Women walk 10,000 km to end sexual violence in India!

“Walk for Dignity”- Women walk 10,000 km to end sexual violence in India!

Dignity March” held in Delhi included hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse in India. The walk included the survivors, both women, and children, who have faced some form of abuse in their life, traveled 10,000 km connecting 200 districts in 24 states starting from Mumbai on December 20.

image courtesy: dignitymarch.org

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Vision:

The idea behind the walk was to create awareness among women and children to prevent themselves from sexual abuse. It is also a message to all the survivors to be strong and fight for justice no matter what. ” Safer India for Women and Children in India”.

To help seek justice to the women and children who have been sexually abused in the country.

The objective of the march was to encourage children and women to speak out about their experiences of sexual violence without embarrassment and put an end to the extensive culture of victim-shaming.

image courtesy: idsn.org

The Dignity March, held by survivor-focused organisation Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan. The Convenor says that:

“It is also unfortunate that while there is a huge anger against rapes, millions of victims, primarily children are trapped in commercial sexual exploitation and community-based prostitution. Society says this because they have paid money, it is not it is not rape. But it is a case of serial rape and a heinous crime,” said Ashif-Shaikh, Convenor, Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, Dignity March.

“The number of men who turned up to support the women was overwhelming.”

“Rape remains one of the most underreported crimes in the country with some estimates suggesting that as many as 95 per cent of rape cases in India remain unreported, according to Equality Now.”

He adds:

It is also unfortunate that while there is huge anger against rapes, millions of victims, primarily children are trapped in commercial sexual exploitation and community-based prostitution. Society says this because they have paid money, it is not rape. But it is a case of serial rape and a heinous crime.

Joined by family members, activists, politicians, lawyers, police, and actors. The historic march has strived to shine a spotlight on a culture of victim shaming and blaming, which campaigners say has allowed perpetrators to evade punishment. It also aims to highlight the obstacles women and children face in accessing justice.

image courtesy: indiatimes.com

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The story of survivors:

Kashi Bai, who was representing her daughter because she is a minor, said: “We are alone. There is no-one who supports the poor. The man who did this to my daughter, he is a pundit, he is powerful. It is all a money game. He has bought it over the police. I am fighting this battle alone.”

Another woman who survived the abuse told:

 “Sharing my story with a supportive audience and the togetherness with other participants has given me courage and self-respect to overcome my fear and sorrow”.

A tribal woman from the Mandsaur region in Madhya Pradesh, a victim of flesh trade when she was 15 years old was also at the march.

Bhanwari Devi gang-raped and brutalised over 25 years ago. Bhanwari Devi, awaiting justice, asserted that she will continue to fight for it.

image courtesy: independent.co.uk

After interacting with 25,000 survivors, 2,000 stakeholders, 200 policymakers and 2,000 lawyers from across the nation, the ‘Dignity March’ has presented a vision document ‘Safer India for Women and Children’ comprising key recommendations to prevent sexual violence against women and children.

All the women were present to support each other and stand together to seek justice and stop sexual abuse.

Reaching out:

Each of the survivors recounted details of the trauma they have faced. Also, they talked about how they felt victimised by society and the government.

The 5,000 survivors who joined the march traveled country to spread the message to stop the stigmatisation of survivors and to support them.

The march also intends to encourage the creation of a network of survivors, their families, and other allies. Another objective is to spark a discourse on the subject and ensure participation in policy-making at a local, state and national level along with the implementation of laws and guidelines related to sexual violence.

While making a call for more people to come out and join the march, the organisers presented a 2018 survey titled ‘Speak Out’. It enlisted 15,000 respondents across different States, ages and professions- regarding sexual violence and harassment.

A lot of cases are pending and people are yet to get justice. A lot of members of the audience were crying but people were also chanting to support them.

A need for better law and punishment against these crimes immediately. There also needs to be a better implementation of guidelines for medico-legal examination, particularly in regards to ending the two-finger test, which involves a medical practitioner inserting two fingers into the vagina in an attempt to determine if the hymen is broken and to test laxity.

The Supreme Court banned the test in 2013 and released new guidelines for the same.

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