Breaking the culture of silence
16 December 2012, Munrika, New Delhi, India: A 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, travelling in a bus along with a male friend, was beaten up and gang raped by six men. The woman succumbed to injuries thirteen days later.
08 December 2012, Bidar, Karnataka, India: A five year-old was brutally raped by two men. This incident was not brought to public attention for a long time. The girl recovered physically, but would probably take a long time to recover mentally from this scar, that too, with a lot of constant support from the family and the society.
These are isolated incidents that allude to only one form of deep rooted evil prevalent against women in our society. The other is the more organized system of sex trafficking which lures innocent girls of tender age into the black hole of prostitution.
Stringent laws enacted and enforced in letter & spirit can act as a deterrent to Rape to some extent. However, only a vigilant society can help prevent this evil, as the Rapist’s true intentions are cloaked in the guise of a friend, relative or a gentleman that become evident only when he commits the crime. Recent fast track convictions awarding Death Penalty in some cases, is a welcome development brought about by the public outcry, wide media coverage and Judicial Activism.
But we, the society as a whole, have come to accept and tolerate “Silently”, the presence of so called Red Light Districts in Cities across the World. Some Countries have even legalized Prostitution. There are many more Prostitution Dens operating from residential neighborhoods which become public knowledge only when some vigilant citizen reports its activities to the Police.
Governments/Organizations are making efforts to provide health and nutrition care to the women trapped in the flesh trade. They are also providing assistance for education of their children and to bring them in to the main stream society. While these efforts provide a temporary succor to their destitute lives, it is by no means enough.
The need of the hour is to “Break the Silence” with a three pronged approach to eradicate the most despicable form of human debauchery.
- Rescue the women and children, entrapped in the flesh trade from the clutches of the mafia.
- Provide mental and physical therapy, equip them with skills for a decent and respectable livelihood and provide the moral support to lead normal lives of their choice without any prejudice or judgment from the society. In fact, like the Witness Protection Program in USA, there should be a Victim Protection Program providing New Identities and New Work Opportunities in a New Community.
- Break the supply chain of flesh trade by educating young girls and women on the Modus Operandi of the Spotters – the first link in the flesh trade chain, who operate in the guise of a Friend or Relative or neighbor or even a Stranger exploiting the innocent trust of young girls with promises of fulfilling their dreams − and encourage them to report to their parents of such advances on the first encounter itself, without fear.
This Herculean task cannot be achieved by a few. People who lead normal lives, untouched by this social evil, need to break their silence, raise their voice and actively support organizations like Prajwala with contributions through volunteer work and donations.
Project Roshni is one such organization that supports and supplements the efforts of Prajwala. Project Roshni aspires to bring common people to the forefront of the war against exploitation of women and children. It conducts regular awareness events to sensitize people about the horrors of sex trafficking and invoke their support in eradicating it and rehabilitating the victims.