Sexual Health Resources for Women of South Asian Heritage

Are We Safe?

Are We Safe?

By: Saipriya V

Violence against women  is a serious problem in our society. This is not only due to the  patriarchal culture, but also due to the fact that  women are marginalized by our culture and by our society in many number of ways. Violence against women is not limited to domestic violence, but also include rape, acid attack, dowry deaths, honor killing, abduction and sex trafficking. In recent years rape and acid attacks have become a very common crime against women.

Among all the gender based violences, rape has now become the leading crime in South Asia, however incidence of rapes is the most under reported, this is due to the stigma  attached with it . In these cases the victim, often a woman is blamed to be careless or a moral less person, and often the victim bears the burden  for providing evidence against the accused. Victims of rape is often portrayed as  a shame and a burden to the family. In India, a 14 year old survivor of gang rape said that the girl’s father abandoned the family because he could not handle the shame, similarly a mother of 6 year old rape victim reported that her family experienced such a stigma in her community that their older daughter was dropped from school. Women were also blamed  that their clothing or conduct have invited  for their own rape. It is heartbreaking to see rape victims age range from  4 years old to 71 years old women.

The New-Delhi gang rape has sparked  anger across the country.  Supports against ‘rape culture’ poured from all over the world,  in Toronto protesters rallied outside the Indian consulate to show their support to call better treatment for women. Hundreds of thousands of women’s rights protesters  and student organization based in Delhi poured near ‘India gate’ and demonstrated their anger across the country’s culture of violence against women. Though the protest ended up as a war between protesters and policemen, still a number of protesters continued to show their support against ‘rape culture’. But on the other hand, politicians argued that women should not be ‘adventurous’, by walking in the streets late night and others claimed that women should not dress provocatively. Some argued that being a ‘woman’ it makes her vulnerable, so women should stay at home cooking and washing dishes. This clearly demonstrates the patriarchal culture soaked in our society. It’s time to join our hands and raise our voices against this gender –based violence. While we unite asking for justice, we should think about how are we going to change this social attitude and protect ourselves?

There is active resistance happening in our communities to challenge this patriarchal system.  Apne Aap Women Worldwide is a registered charitable trust in India, helps marginalized women to resist and end sex trafficking. They are working to empower women, by distributing a  comic book  “Priya’s Shakti” which was created as to empower the ‘victims of rape’ across country and it is used as a tool to reach communities and schools to raise  awareness about sexual assault. Educating women about their rights and creating, appropriate and accessible support/care groups  could help women protect themselves.