Word On The Street

I will not shut up: Raising voice against sexual abuse

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RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest) Foundation, established in 1996, is an organization focused on women survivors of incest and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Volunteers at RAHI have made it their mission to spread awareness about the issue of sexual abuse, thereby bringing it to the fore and in the agendas of the social change makers.

The first and only organization in India for women survivors of Incest and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) since 1996, RAHI has now come up with their ‘I Will Not Shut Up’ campaign. The campaign which is the first of its kind in India was launched in August and is aimed at breaking the silence, both literally and metaphorically. As a part of this campaign, they have recruited campaigners in many colleges of Delhi University, including IP College for Women, Jesus & Mary College, Ramjas College, Daulat Ram College, Janki Devi College, Dyal Singh College, St.Stephens College and Miranda House as agents of change, who will take this message forward.

On being asked how this campaign took birth, Veronica Xavier, Programme Assistant at RAHI, explained, “RAHI has been working closely with the student community since the last 18 years. In our college programmes, we train young students who then go out and spread awareness about CSA to their peers and reach out to survivors amongst them. This year, I Will Not Shut Up is witnessing an expansion of wings and reach, both through on the street activities on campus as well as online campaigning. Thus came the idea of a campaign which was an open dare to anyone who asked us to shut up about CSA and be in denial about it in our families.”

RAHI has come up with a variety of activities to be performed on-campus as well as online activities, placard campaign, movie screenings, poster-making competitions, to name a few. Recently, they held a poster-making competition in Indraprastha College for Women.

In barely two and a half months, they have reached out to over 12,000 students. Swati Varma, Programmes Coordinator at RAHI, is glad with the success of the campaign and the alacrity of the college students. “The response that we have got from the students is overwhelming! Be it a stall at a Diwali Mela, a movie screening or a poster drive, the students from the campus have been very enthusiastic and have, very passionately participated in all our activities in huge numbers.” When asked whether the experience has been easy, she said, “Of course, there were the usual ups and downs. A few times we did find students being apprehensive and uneasy with the issue. But then again, that is what our campaign is aiming to do: breaking the silence and discomfort around CSA in the campus.”

DUB Speak: The unabated existence of child sexual abuse is a horrendous reality. To aggravate the trauma further, Indian society often attaches a stigma to this, deepening the scars that the survivors of child sexual abuse and incest grow up with. To deal with such a sensitive issue, which has hitherto remain untouched and unspoken of, is perhaps the biggest quandary. For long, such matters have been shunned from being discussed, they have been censored from the public discourse, and the victim has been compelled to maintain silence about her suffering. Sexual assault victims suffer not just the pain of abuse, but also the fear of ignominy posed by the society which often terrorizes the victim into silence. All this borders on cowardice, our reluctance to change and on society’s cowardice.

Kritika Narula
[email protected]

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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