Only recently are we seeing a surge in the number of survivors in universities or in big industries coming across to report incidents of sexual crimes. But what is it that stops survivors to not speak up against such crimes that affect them both mentally and many times physically. Rapes, sexual assault, molestation, eve-teasing, street harassment are crimes where we see fewer numbers of women opening up to file reports with the authorities.

“Systemic oppression of voices and victim blaming is perhaps the biggest reason women stay silent about sexual harassment in India, the constant questioning of what the survivor did wrong and the shame directed towards them makes many detract from reporting. Added to that are other factors like the severe delay in getting justice, corrupt and inadequate state machinery, the threat to life, and societal othering,” said Vandita Morarka, Founder and CEO of One Future Collective to SheThePeople.TV.

Senior Advisor of Jagori, Suneeta Dhar believes women are silent about sexual harassment in the workplace fearing loss of jobs, victim-shaming and social censure. “Too often, institutions have not informed employees about complaints mechanisms nor institutionalized them. Additionally registering a case with the police is cumbersome, time and resource-intensive, with insufficient institutional support. The lack of counselling and solidarity faced by survivors serves another disincentive.”

We are actually a very private culture that hides and trains women to hide their dysfunction. And finally, women feel afraid that if they speak up, the resources of the system will come out immediately to destroy her. They feel fear of dealing with aloneness without the emotional and financial support of other women and men to fight the system they have challenged.

It is true that when women open up about incidents of sexual harassment in the corporate sector, they have always had to bear severe consequences. These consequences heighten when the accused is at a senior executive position as we saw in the RK Pachauri case of TERI where the survivor had to deal with ostracisation, lose out on her job and non-employment. The case is still going on but Pachauri us far from conviction.

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Social scientist and writer of the book call Chup, Deepa Narayan said, “Women in India are still carriers of family honour and family is still very important. So to speak up without family support and agreement is very difficult because it brings shame and discomfort to the family.

Second, we are actually a very private culture that hides and trains women to hide their dysfunction. And finally, women feel afraid that if they speak up, the resources of the system will come out immediately to destroy her. They feel fear of dealing with aloneness without the emotional and financial support of other women and men to fight the system they have challenged.”

Women in India still have to look at many aspects of her life before filing an FIR report with the police against an incident of sexual crime. The family, the society, the culture, the workplace, etc. all these forces come together and pose as deterrents.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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