This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhijeet Kumar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Woman Who’s Been Sexually Exploited, Faces A Bigger Monster Still (Includes You And Me)

More from Abhijeet Kumar

By Abhijeet Kumar:

dawn-sunset-person-womanSexual violence is ubiquitous. Subordination of women has been an ugly part of human civilisation. The growth of market forces seems to have made little difference. On the contrary, turning the human body into a ‘commodity’ has been one of its results. People across the world have been pretty vocal about this issue of late.

In India, debates and discussions over sexual violence have increased. Ironically, the number of rapes have as well. From the comfort of their homes, people like to opine as to why rapes happen. Some ‘geniuses’, held in high regard by others, enlighten us on what role the girls play in getting themselves raped, what should be done to the rapist etc. They put the blame on others, pretending they had nothing to with it.

The society as a whole has two sides on the issue of sexual violence. One addresses the violator and the second addresses the woman who is violated. It fails miserably on both sides.

Society’s attempt to understand the rapist is where it falters first. This is because it pretends that it had no role in shaping the personality of the violator. It fails to address the roots of patriarchy. The process through which this patriarchy is imbibed by children starts from the day they are born. Right from childhood, the idea of being masculine and thus superior is planted in the minds of boys. The girls are brought up being reminded every day that they are inferior to their brothers and other males due to physical differences. The toys they are given to play, the festivals they celebrate–Rakshabandhan and Bhai Dooj being cases in point–the domestic roles that are expected of them, the consciousness of them being physically as well as mentally deficient, thus become the products of patriarchy.

Women are made to feel like secondary citizens in society. Therefore, physical violence against females is a direct result of the structures which tilt the power relation in favour of males. This is the structure that society has created for itself and the structure endures.

This brings us to the other part of our discussion. That is the reaction of society when sexual violence happens, apart from holding the offender accountable. Patriarchy rears its ugly head again. The woman who suffers from sexual violence experiences violence at every level after the incident. First, from the legal system wherein she is made to relive the horrific experience if she is fortunate enough to have access to a legal recourse that is. Her morality, her character, her actions etc. are questioned, by the judiciary as well as the ‘sympathetic society’.

The way society and families deal with the women who have been sexually assaulted is of major concern. What follows after the rape is, in a way, more painful for the women. The reaction which they get makes it harder for women to deal with their trauma. They are constantly reminded, in a number of ways, that they are no longer a part of the ‘normal society’. They are constantly reminded that they will never go back to being the same person that they were before.

Therein comes the Brahminical idea of ‘purity’ that tells the woman that she is ‘impure’ and should not consider herself to be equal to others. In Ramayana, the ‘Maryada Purushottam’ Hindu god Ram, revered as the epitome of masculinity and perfection, did not hesitate for a second and refused to accept Sita after her abduction, his wife whom he supposedly ‘loved’ and fought a war for. The grounds were the suspicion that she might have lost her purity at the hands of Ravana.

Sita, to prove her ‘purity’ jumped into a fire. The incident is commonly presented by religious people as being an example of a great sacrifice. Such examples from mythology grant legitimacy to discrimination, or rather, exclusion, of women who have already suffered a lot. From this, one can easily understand what happens to women who are raped.

Women who are already considered secondary citizens, after their sexual exploitation, fall below even this category. What follows is that the ‘civil society’ refuses to have any kind of institutional ties, mainly marriages, with women who have already suffered enough. But this doesn’t come as much of a surprise since it is this same ‘civil society’ which, in matrimonial advertisements gives primacy to the caste and complexion of their desired brides. Thus, the society which presents itself as a ‘sympathiser’ of the survivor, in fact, becomes the agent of repeated violence on women.

Therefore, the we have to take responsibility for the violence which the woman suffers. Instead of pushing her into a dark corner and never allowing her to redeem herself, the society needs to help her recover. But, since we are a developing society, which is a common excuse for this, we will probably learn in time. Till then we can sit back in our homes, judging and blaming others while carrying on with our age old patriarchal practices mandated by our sacred texts and let our fellow humans die. But then again, what do we care?

You must be to comment.
  1. Meagan

    Thanks for writing, but I do have one problem, with these lines: “In India, debates and discussions over sexual violence have increased. Ironically, the number of rapes have as well.” Since measuring rapes in India is very difficult, we can only go by the number of reported rapes. Reports of rapes have increased, yes, and this is a good thing actually. I work with an Indian NGO that helps victims of child sexual assault. We are glad to see the increase in reporting because one of the biggest battles in this fight against sexual violence is the culture of silence that surrounds it. The increase of reports of rapes has in part coincided with the POCSO Act and it seems people are becoming more confident their case will see justice in the courts and they are less afraid of societal shaming due to being a rape victim. Again, thanks for writing. Keep up the good work.

More from Abhijeet Kumar

Similar Posts

By Tina Sequeira

By Sas3 Tranimal

By Saira Nikhat Imam Waris

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below