According to an NCRB report in 2014, 93 women are raped in India every day. Sexual assault and abuse are very common in India, but these issues are also under-reported. While a lot of my friends and family have gone through such experiences, they are accompanied by varying, complex reactions. But what has always struck me the most, was how it is thought of as ‘normal’ to a large extent; not just facing such experiences, but also the culture of silence surrounding them.
I think, one of the main reasons behind this silence is the constant blaming and shaming of survivors, and the fact that they’re continuously hearing that they are wholly, or even partly responsible for getting assaulted in the first place. This perception needs to change and with that idea in mind, I initiated How Revealing.
How Revealing is a website project that serves as a safe space online for people to anonymously share experiences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexism in India. Meant to be a place of no judgment, and to help legitimise the variety of complicated emotions that usually accompany an experience – fear, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, despair, apathy, trauma- How Revealing has seen a number of very moving accounts in a short span of time.
Our website is meant for anyone, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, age or nationality, who has had an experience in India or saw it happening around them or to someone they know.
On How Revealing, some of the stories are heartbreaking, others revealing in their commonalities, the ‘normalcy’ of their occurrence. Many are from people who have never spoken about it with anyone and are sharing their experiences for the first time. It becomes clearer with every account how important it is for a platform like this to exist in India.
Those undergoing such experiences might need help, and just don’t know what to do or where to go. For them, we have created a ‘Support’ page, which lists organisations and help-lines that people can choose to contact anonymously when they need help. Our website also serves as a repository of information of instances of sexual exploitation that can throw up patterns for research. For instance, preliminarily, we have seen that more than 50% of the stories on the website are experiences of child sexual abuse.
We know that progress might be slow, and it will take time for people who have wanted to share to be able to share, and that is completely fine. We’d just like to get the word out that this online space exists, and that people who have undergone abuse and exploitation are not alone, and that it is time to break the silence around this issue.