- Posted August 22, 2013 by
New York, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
India: The Conversation We Need to Have
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
Many have been talking, writing, sharing, and apologizing after reading Rose Chasm’s trying story of unsolicited sexual attention throughout her travels in India. In many ways as I read through her documentation, I could not help but nod my head in agreement, seeing in words parallel experiences coming from a stranger.
Having mobile cameras fixated on my every move, confronting various groups of men who followed me around while I ran daily errands, attempting to avoid wandering hands on buses and trains, and being sexually assaulted in broad daylight. Yes, I’ve experienced it, heard of it, and witnessed it as an Indian born, American bred woman traveling through my homeland alone.
My travels haven’t produced bitterness towards an entire nation, society, or its male population. I do not believe anyone attempts to generalize the blame. I certainly do not seek the apology of strangers on a forum expressing disgust towards their own people, and sincere regret for being part of the Indian male populace. However, if international media has done anything right, in the past year, it is the attention the world has finally given to highlighting the outcries of the unheard survivors of sexual assault within the country; those whose stories have gone unnoticed and tossed to the sidelines by the overwhelmed system of justice.
Some, like Rose Chasm’s UChicago coursemate, have argued that rape, domestic violence and sexual assault are issues that we as humanity deal with from developing to developed nations. I am in no position to argue against such facts, but I do believe that in India there exists a strong cultural stigma towards speaking up, reporting, and openly prosecuting perpetrators. Throughout my time in India, I discussed my personal encounters with groups of local women that opened their hearts and homes to me. As I attempted to inquire if others had comparable experiences I was met with weak smiles and an Aunty’s response, “Beti, this is our lot in life. These things happen.”
“These things happen.”-- That is the bleak, status quo for many women in India; an acceptance of the violation to their body, mind, and spirit. It is not enough to simply empathize with the few stories that make it through mainstream channels. There needs to be a deconstruction of what is deemed a taboo conversation concerning sexual violence, harassment, and honor depriving rape within India. If we want to see change we need to demand it and not be embarrassed or ashamed to speak up.