Mumbai: In a quick survey conducted by a survivor-focused Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan (RGA), it has been revealed that 74 percent of the people in the country have faced sexual violence at least once in their life. Taking into consideration the surprising number, the RGA has initiated a Dignity March with over 5000 survivors of sexual exploitation, which will kick start from Mumbai to Delhi on Thursday. The Dignity March will see survivors and other supporters travel 10,000 kilometres in 200 districts of 24 states.
The Dignity March was the brainchild of the RGA, after it conducted a preliminary online national survey ‘Speak Out!’ to determine the intensity of sexual violence against women and children. The survey revealed that an alarming number of people (males and females) have faced sexual violence. However, 95 percent of the incidents of sexual violence against women and children are not reported. Moreover, the ‘victim’ is shamed and is under constant fear of stigmatisation by the society.
The aim of the Dignity March is to end the shaming of survivors of sexual violence and shift the social humiliation onto perpetrators. Speaking of Dignity March, Ashif Shaikh of RGA said, “This is a response to what is happening around us. It is time to speak up, end victim shaming and shift the blame, by holding society and the state accountable. Punitive action against the perpetrator should be taken, through effective implementation of legal guidelines, ensuring rehabilitation facilities for survivors. This is only possible if we break the silence surrounding sexual rape, sexual violence; to demand accountability and justice.”
The Dignity March hopes to get a good response as the #MeToo campaign, which took the country by storm. Several prominent members of the society like Tisca Chopra and Sudha Chandran will flag off the Dignity March on Thursday from Somaiya Grounds at Sion. This group of survivors also includes Bhanwari Devi, activist and survivor of a gang rape. Bhanwari Devi, was gang raped by six men in Rajasthan after she opposed the marriage of a nine-month-old baby girl. Bhanwari Devi said, “I have been fighting the concept of shaming victims since then. I might not be able to get justice for myself, but would like to pave the way of justice for rape survivors like me.”
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