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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

“This is for the people who’ve gone through so much,

That they’ve forgotten the purity of a touch.”

Sexual assault by definition is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.

Sadly, it is very common for one individual to touch another without their consent. It’s despicable and horrid and it is as prevalent as any other disease. Maybe if people thought of the victims at least once, maybe if they understood the potential loss, maybe if they, just for a second, thought about the consequences of their actions, they would not go any further. Sexual assault is like a scar that weighs a ton, the wound might heal eventually, but the scar stays forever and might even cause new ones, and the memories come flashing back at the worst possible moments. When we feel helpless, when we feel the most crestfallen, the memories of that one disgusting moment come flooding back like an ardent wave from the ocean. We can learn to swim, we can hope to drown, but we can’t escape the inundated ruins of our mind that stay buried so deeply that no other memory can possibly pull them out of the space that they occupy for life. The statistics of sexual assault in India, let alone the whole world are absolutely horrendous. The stories are ghastly to hear. The worst part about the whole ordeal is that the victims often refuse to speak up about the assault. That is why the statistics often do not match the actual number of sexual assault cases in India as well as most parts of the world. At least that is what the probability is. 

Rape accounts for about 12% of all crimes committed against women in India. According to a recent report by Livemint, about 99% of cases of sexual violence go unreported. If true, this would put India among the nations with the highest levels of crimes against women. But women aren’t the only ones to suffer through the atrocities of sexual assault. Men and women alike face the problem, however, the number of women facing sexual assault is apparently high as opposed to men. We must not forget that predators neither come from a particular gender nor look for a particular gender. 

Sexual assault often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder. As dreadful as the disorder is, it is not uncommon for a sexual assault survivor to have battled PTSD. The mind indeed becomes a prison when there is an overwhelming occupancy of horrible memories to browse through.

But what is it that prevents the victims from speaking up and getting the justice that they deserve? Perhaps the stigma that is still attached to it or maybe the fear of being judged. A lot of times it is the fact that the person who initiates the assault is either a close family member or someone that the victim already knows. That is why more often than not, even when the victim chooses to speak up, they are silenced by the family and the matter is suppressed forever. 

What good does that do? What good do relations with such a person do to anyone? It is high time that we realize that people who have the nerve to assault other people, sexually or otherwise do not deserve to be a part of society. The extremely gradual pace of the justice system of our country is perhaps another reason why people find it unreasonable to go to the authorities. But, at the end of the day, no reason is good enough to sabotage the already deteriorating mental health of the survivor. We must learn to speak up in order to stop this heinous act. 

What can be done to prevent sexual assault?

According to rainn.org, it is pivotal to take action once you get the whiff of the situation. It is advised to create a distraction once you start suspecting that a person in close proximity to you might be in trouble. You can choose to create a distraction and change the situation entirely but you can also ask the person directly if they’re in some sort of trouble. Another solution is to report the situation to the authorities or enlist another person to you to arrive at a safe conclusion for someone who is about to go through it. Whether it’s giving someone a safe ride home from a party or diverting a person who is engaging in uncomfortable behavior, anyone can help prevent sexual violence. Alcohol safety is another thing to keep in mind. Remember, your actions count and you must not hesitate to step in when you suspect a situation like that.

Some helpline number for sexual assault in India are as follows:

•   Central Social Welfare Board – Police Helpline 1091/ 1291, (011) 23317004

•   Shakti Shalini: Women’s Shelter – (011) 24373736/ 24373737

•   SAARTHAK – (011) 26853846/ 26524061

•   All India Women’s Conference – 10921/ (011) 23389680

•   JAGORI – (011) 26692700

•   Joint Women’s Programme (also has branches in Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai) – (011) 24619821

•   Sakshi: Violence Intervention Center – (0124) 2562336/ 5018873

•   Saheli: A Women’s Organization – (011) 24616485 (Saturdays)

•   Nirmal Niketan – (011) 27859158

•   Nari Raksha Samiti – (011) 23973949

•   Recovering and Healing from Incest (RAHI) – A support centre for women survivors of child sexual abuse – (011) 26238466/ 26224042, 26227647

Stay safe and stay strong. Always remember that there’s nothing you can’t fight off and there’s no one in this entire world that is entitled to jeopardize your comfort and safety. You deserve justice just as much as anybody else, never forget.

Anjalika Tiwari

Delhi South '23

Anjalika is a student of Kamala Nehru College. She is an ardent believer of the fact that inspiration can be drawn from anything and everything. A dreamer at heart, forced into the pragmatic world, she encompasses an adequate amount of research as well as personal opinions in her articles.