On 20th December, 2018, at least 5000 survivors across the country prepared to join the 65 day long touring national event, ‘Dignity March’. It commenced in Mumbai, organised by the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyaan and other groups. It is scheduled to cover 10,000 km in 200 districts of 24 States/UT’s in India, culminating in Delhi on 22nd February 2019.
Bhanwari Devi, whose rape case laid the foundation for forming Vishakha Guidelines (Laws against Sexual Harassment in Workplace), is a participant of the march and aims to make people listen to the sexual violence survivors and their families.
As many as 2.5 million crimes against women have been reported in India over the last decade.
According to NCRB, reported cases of crime against women increased by 83% from 185,312 in 2007 to 338,954 in 2016. As many as 2.5 million crimes against women have been reported in India over the last decade. Rape accounts for about 12% of all crimes against women. A survey conducted by the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyaan found that 95 percent incidents of sexual violence against women and children across India go unreported. Among the 1,553 respondents from across 14 states, 74 percent said that they had faced sexual violence.
Due to this, the organisers of the march called for women and children to speak out their experiences of sexual abuse without shame. They have also explicitly stated on their official website that “Dignity March is a platform for the survivors to tell their stories in their own voice, to represent their own narratives. It is a call to end the culture of shame and fear, to encourage others to speak up, and demand zero tolerance for sexual violence in our society. It is to hold society and the state accountable toward punitive action against the perpetrator, through effective implementation of legal guidelines, and ensuring rehabilitation facilities for survivors”.
As of 8th January 2019, the march has entered Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, conducting a community meeting in Rajahmundry Press Club. Their goal is to organise community meetings across the 200 districts by various survivors to trigger conversations around sexual violence and trafficking.
They intend to create a network of support and solidarity between victims, families and, stakeholders.
These meetings would therefore spread awareness and sensitisation among various stakeholders about the same. They are also organising state-level conventions of survivors and distribution of resource material.
They intend to create a network of support and solidarity between victims, families and, stakeholders. They are also seeking public initiatives for justice through comprehensive socio-medico-legal relief and rehabilitation of survivors. They are using the hashtag #ShameToSupport to cover their March. It is important to support the survivors and this initiative in order to bring a positive push towards sensitisation toward sexual violence in this country, specially in a time where India is deemed unsafe for the survival of women.
Featured Image Source: DNA India