Why Should Survivors Bear The Burden Of Blame?

The Trigger | Insight

As India faces increasing crimes against women, this campaign seeks to hold the perpetrators of sexual violence responsible, rather than the survivors.

Victim-blaming is rampant in India.  Instead of making sure that the perpetrators are dealt with and people are discouraged from molesting or raping, the government and our own family members focus on asking women to adapt by limiting their freedom. Just to put things into perspective, according to UNICEF, rape has been “identified by psychologists as the most intrusive of traumatic events”. It has been declared a “weapon of war” by the UN and yet, we blame the target, not the ones who wield the weapon.

“Asked For It” is a phrase that is used (especially in India) to blame the survivor of sexual abuse and needs to be redirected at the perpetrator. The eponymous initiative aims to put the blame squarely on the perpetrator and encourages survivors to speak up. Sharing stories and instances where perpetrators were punished, can deter potential criminals and make the country safer.

Raison D’être

Over the years, there has been increasing conversation surrounding rape and molestation. There have been movements against victim-blaming and for women’s rights, questioning the law and more. They mostly reach out to the ‘intelligentsia’, people who were already aware. We, however, wanted hopefully to reach out to a slightly wider audience, with a more direct approach.

In addition, it is an attempt to do away with the unintentional policy of appeasement. Currently, the dominant mindset seems to be – “this is how society is now. You know it’s unsafe. You can’t change minds. Take precautions.” And this mindset needs to change. It is an attitude that encourages rapists or molesters. We believe it encourages victim-blaming.

Sakshi Pradhan | Facebook

#AskedForIt is a campaign that states that no matter what the time, the attire, the food, the weather, if anyone sexually harasses another and gets beaten up or jailed for it, the harasser deserves it.

There are several reasons for our initiative:

  • To establish that the prosecution (and persecution) of the perpetrator is their own fault and they deserve to be punished.
  • To deter potential perpetrators from acting on their desires.
  • To empower survivors to speak up and report. This is particularly important because a large number are molested by relatives and are afraid to ’embarrass’ their families.
  • To help sensitise cops.
  • Encourage cities and the police to co-operate with the survivors and to help put sex offenders behind bars.

Modus Operandi

Khushboo Grewal | Facebook

Through social media, such as our Facebook page, we are encouraging people to publicise moments wherein rapists and molesters were beaten up, jailed or had a case filed against them. We declare that they “Asked for it”. We believe that people should speak out against their perpetrators and therefore, we are encouraging them to share their own stories.

A Broader Picture

However, raising awareness and not providing solutions can sometimes be counter-productive. Though this is not one of those times, here’s a list of things we think might help (and we welcome suggestions):

  • Sex education: The oft-bleated excuse that this is not part of our “value system” or “culture” is misinformed at best and stupid at worst. No, scratch that. It’s stupid. Just stupid. Sex education teaches you about sex, precautions to take, your rights (boys and girls) and promotes gender equality. Religion and politics should have no say in fact-based subjects. Kishor Varta is an initiative that’s getting education on gender equality and sexual health right!
  • A public sex offender registry: This registry is to document a list of names and photos (publicly accessible) of people who, irrespective of whether they knew the survivor or not, have committed a sexual offence. Human rights activists have suggested that such a registry be kept private for fear of vigilante justice, which, honestly, makes complete sense. However, others claim it might be a good idea to make a registry like this public for two reasons – to warn people, since a considerable percentage of convicts are repeat offenders, and to act as a deterrent. The fact that many offenders are released from jail without public knowledge is worrisome. There are valid arguments, both for and against a sex offender registry. Kerala is already set to launch India’s first such registry.
  • Make politicians and people in power accountable for what they say, as their words can promote victim-blaming and encourage rape culture as well as hatred towards a whole section of society.  There’s a plan to start a petition for that. Let’s see if it takes form.
Shivangi Lahoty | Full post on Instagram

In the past, we’ve been part of and supported more ‘elegant’ campaigns. This time, it just felt right to take this approach. As a way to help this campaign move forward, we encourage people to out their perpetrators to family, friends and authorities. After all, they #AskedForIt.

This can only work with collaboration, so if you have relevant stories to share, an opinion on the campaign or even some advice, let us know on Facebook, Twitter (@AskedFor_it)  or Instagram (@thefatsmeagolcollective), using #AskedForIt. The comment section over here works too!


Just Cause and Team #AskedForIt

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