Sexual violence in India is one of the most commonly occurred crime, yet when it comes to reports and just actions, most cases stay unreported or the perpetrators barely face the consequence for their very deeds.
In a 2018 survey, India was recognized as the most dangerous country for the women worldwide, going above other nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, and the USA. India also comes as the country where the maximum number of sexual violence against women have taken place in recent years. The survey notes sexual violence in a number of forms including “rape as a weapon of war; domestic rape; rape by a stranger; the lack of access to justice in rape cases; sexual harassment and coercion into sex as a form of corruption.”
In India, almost every other woman has faced sexual violence in one form or other, be it in the comfort of a homely environment or in streets, workplace or caused by a “known person” in an unfamiliar place; but only little has been done to prevent it. According to the Reuters survey report, “Government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016 when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.”
India’s #metoo movement which broadly caught the momentum in the second half of 2018, where women called out their harassers and demanded proper steps to be taken against the perpetrators, caught the attention of International media; but how far have we come from there?
A plethora of news reports also suggested that compared to urban areas, the awareness about sexual violence is especially low in rural areas, where women (more than half, 54%) have accepted sexual abuse, especially when it comes as a form of domestic violence, most often caused by the husband or former husband.
Sexual assault may come in various forms, but the impact that it leads to an individual is essentially totalitarian; it can lead to short term or long term psychological or physical damage. Incidents where the perpetrator is a family member or a close relative, the psychological damage may result in long-term emotional issues, lack of trust and many more.
A research journal titled Psychological Aspects of Rape and Its Consequences states, “In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, the survivor may report a variety of psychological responses, including acute stress reactions, emotional detachment, and sleep disturbances.”
It further says, “While some individuals may be resilient to the negative effects of sexual trauma, for other women sexual victimization is the most devastating event that they will experience”. Sometimes, the trauma of sexual violence can leave its mark for the lifetime and it may result in a myriad of psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, sleep disorders, and even suicide attempts, the report suggested.
Steps That Women Can Take
While the number of sexual crimes against women in India is one of the highest worldwide, the means of help in the country are not widely known. The lack of awareness about sexual violence in the country results in most of the cases going unreported. Hence, we at Feminstaa, are listing down the most necessary steps that one must take after encountering any kind of sexual violence.
Talk about it
The first and foremost step which a victim of a sexual assault should take is to share it with someone that she/he feels comfortable with. Talking about it, helps you address the incident.
Gather as many evidence as you can about the incident. If it has happened in a workplace, you should contact the H.R of the company. If it’s domestic, take help from the helpline numbers and confide to a family member who can support you through the process.
If you want to call out your harasser, there are a list of lawyers who will work with you free of cost to help you get justice. But before seeking legal help, one must understand that the legal battle will be long and time-consuming. The victim will be asked to repeat the incident details in many instances which can be triggering for the individual. Hence, along with legal help, follow the next step to help deal with the trauma.
Most importantly, seek help from a verified psychological counselor as the impact of any sexual assault can be severe for the psyche of a victim.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) recognizes various aspects of domestic abuse including sexual violence and marital rape.
But sadly, India is still known to be one of the 38 countries where marital rape is not recognized as a punishable crime. Hence, various kinds of sexual assault on married women go unreported almost 90% of the times in rural areas, News18 reported.
In any form of the sexual harassment, “If the sexual assault was damaging to the victim, they can file a criminal complaint and they are entitled to getting prosecution,” Lawyer Karuna Nundy stated, the publication reported.
But in numerous cases, the harasser may file a defamation case to avoid getting charges for their actions. In this particular scenario, “A victim who gets slapped with a defamation charge may not want to further engage in the battle and may settle for an out of court settlement. But if they do, the best thing to do would be to respond. That’s where lawyers come in,” Rutuja Shinde, the Mumbai-based lawyer who works with victims of sexual harassment stated.
But Shinde further added, “This is just the beginning, the real battle has to be won in courts. The end goal is to take a second look at what constitutes as sexual harassment at the workplace in the year 2018 and amend laws such as POSH and Vishakha guidelines accordingly,”.
POSH or Prevention Of Sexual Harassment act, helps you to navigate and address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Through Visakha guidelines, you can understand the type of sexual harassment and what can be the necessary steps.
There are one-stop centers and helpline numbers a victim can talk to before taking any further step. Some of the important numbers are mentioned below.
Take a look at the one-stop centers here, to find your nearest one.
Here’s a list of the helpline numbers that women in India can reach in distress.
Take a look :
- Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) 011 23378044/ 23378317/ 23370597
- Outer Delhi Helpline 011-27034873, 27034874
- Bihar Women Cell Helpline Number, Toll-Free For Complaint Contact Phone Numbers
- Women Helpline Centre 18003456247 / 0612-2320047 / 2214318
- Gujrat Ahmadabad Women’s Action Group 27470036
- Self Employed Women’s Association 25506477/ 25506444
- Women in Distress 1091
- Police Control Room 100
- Child Helpline 1098
- Anti Stalking/Obscene calls 1096/ 011-27894455 (Delhi)
- West Bengal women commission – 91-33-23595609, 91-33-23210154, 91-33-2217 4019/2244 8092
- Swayam (033) 24863367, 24863368
- West Bengal Women Cell Helpline Number, Toll-Free For Complaint Contact Phone Numbers
- Women Helpline Number 913323595609, 913323210154
- Child,Student & Senior Citizen 1291
- DCP SN Mosobi, North East Special Unit 9818099070
- IGP – Robin Hibu, Nodal Officer for Northeasterners (Whatsapp no) 9810083486
- Andhra Pradesh Hyderabad/Secunderabad – Women Police Station 040-27853508
- Hyderabad Women Police Station 04027852400 / 4852
- Bangalore Women’s Police Helpline Bangalore (Vanitha Sahayavani) 08022943225
- Bangalore Traffic Police 080-22868444/22868550
- ChandigarhWomen Police Exchange 1722741900
- Haryana Women and Child Helpline 0124-2335100
- Himachal Pradesh Women Commission 9816066421, 09418636326, 09816882491, 9418384215
- Mumbai Railway Police 9833331111
- Mumbai Police Helpline 100, 103
- Navi Mumbai Police Station 0222758 0255
- PunjabWomen’s Helpline 9781101091
- Women commission 0172-783607
- Women Helpline 1091, 9781101091
- Samvad – (0172) 2546389, 2700109, 276000114
- Tamil Nadu Women’s Helpline 044-28592750
- Women Police Station, Adayar 044-24415732, 044-23452586
- Snehdi (044) 2446293
- The Banyan (044) 26530504 / 26530105
- Women Police Station, Adayar 044-24415732, 044-23452586
- Women Police Station, Guindy 044-24700011
- Tripura Women’s Helpline Numbers 0381-2323355, 03812322912
- Rajasthan Nirbhaya Sambhali Helpline 1800-1200020
- Women Police Station Jodhpur 0291 -2012112
- Karnataka Women Police Helpline 0821-2418400
- Mysore Women Police Station 0821-2418110 / 2418410
- Kerala Vanitha Helpline Number of Kerala Police,
- Trivandrum 9995399953
- State Vanitha Cell 0471-2338100
- Women’s Cell, Kollam 0474-2742376
- Women’s Cell, Kochi 0484-2396730
- Madhya Pradesh Women Cell Helpline Number, Toll-Free For Complaint Contact Phone Numbers
- S.P. Office / We Care For You 2522111
- Mahila Thana Phone Number 2434999
- Pardeshipura Contact Number 2435999
- Sanyogitaganj: 2523999
- Pandrinath 2342999
- Mari Mata (Banganga) 2423999
- Juni Indore: 2362999
- MIG: 2570111
- Mallharganj 2454201
- Chandan Nagar 23789147
- Sanwar Number 7321-220999
- Mhow Number 7324-228100
- Depalpur Number 7322-221100
- Women Commission Phone Number 2661802, 2661804, 2661805,2739804, 2661808
- Uttar Pradesh Women Cell Helpline Number, Toll-Free For Complaint Contact Phone Numbers
- Sahyog (0522) 2387010
- Vanangana (05198) 236985
- Aali (0522) 2782066/60
- Women Commission 0522-2288353, 9415293666
- Helpline Information – Source Quora