Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Recent news clips from the subcontinent across borders:
Woman abducted, ‘gang-raped’ in Defence
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
By our correspondent
A woman was allegedly abducted, gang-raped and later dumped in a posh locality of the city by unidentified men on Monday morning.The details go on…
Delhi Police Intensifies Hunt for 2 Other Rape Accused
NEW DELHI | DEC 03, 2010
Delhi Police personnel today fanned out in the capital and neighbouring states to nab two absconding youths allegedly involved in the gang rape of a Mizo call-centre employee while the two others arrested will undergo test identification parade on Saturday.The details follow…

These are just two examples of news clips you see from the two megacities of our ‘great’ subcontinent who we dearly call the ‘golden bird’ of the past.

A vast majority as large as 97% rape cases go unreported. Whatever cases manage to get into the limelight, too, get rubbed down like the present case by either the family members, or the likes of Sharmila Farouqui.

How shocking is her reaction —that she gives out the name of the girl and then the vocabulary she uses for a girl who is distressed as ‘hyper’,’ batameezi’, etc. And if that was not enough she hints at the girl’s moral values by dropping phrases like ‘she is changing statements’ , ‘coming from a party’ etc .
Only if she knew what would be the state of mind of a woman whose limits of decency have been trespassed by force.

Why did Sharmila say so?

No, certainly not because she was siding with the perpetrator nor because she was against the victim.
It was simply because “she knoweth not what she was talking’.

Yes, because she is naive of the fragile state of mind of a victim of a recent horror of Sexual violence and hence absolutely lost in the ‘basic knowhow’ of how to handle it.

We pride over our ethical values, our fidelities, our hospitality, our great culture, our conscience, our what not when it comes to comparing with the west and their western values.
We spend hours in our sitting rooms just bitching about their divorce rates, their menace of drugs, their AIDS, their broken families, their mechanical life style, their treatment of old parents and what not.
We sing songs of our Iman, our faith, our Haya,our compassion, and the list can go on…
And when it comes to real life scenarios like these, where do our compassions or empathy, drilled into us through our faith, vanish?

Sharmilla are you listening?

We talk of issues for a while and then move on to another, with an ultra short memory. True, we have numerous issues and they keep us engaged, one after the other—but there are issues which deserve a deeper look and a reality check.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE happens to be one such issue.

The dark reality remains that RAPE or SEXUAL VIOLENCE in general remains aninternational phenomenon—no country, no faith, no community is safe from its wrath. We are in ‘no way above this either.

These cases( in news) involve perpetrators who were perhaps unknown to their victims— and hence it becomes piece of ‘news item’. But hundreds of our young or not so young girls, and even the world over, become the victims of the barbaric passions of their own acquaintances like friends, boyfriends, fiances, even uncles or close family members.

A vast invisible majority of them do not even get enough of courage to complain or share it with those who can understand. Why? Because they know that the onus of the act will fall on them with remarks like:

“You asked for it by getting trapped yourself.”

“Why did you befreind him?”

“Why were you alone with him?”

“Why did you go out with him?”

“Why were you dressed like that?”

“Why were you out at that time?”

These are all the bullets that are shot at her, if she even stands up to complain.

And then as a sad consequence, a lot of them get into the vicious circle of blackmailing and reenter the cycle of of being sexually assaulted again ‘n’ again by the same or other related individuals until it becomes a ‘routine abuse’ thing for her.
Along with the strong legislation( which we deservingly cry about ), we urgently need to talk about it, spread awareness of its existence , learn how tokeep safe from it, and how to get help if such a situation arises.

Are YOU listening?

No, not just at Sharmila Faruqi, but I scream this loud to anyone who claims to be a human being.
All of us need to be aware of and sensitive to it.
Think not that such calamaties cannot befall upon us too.

Awareness of the menace, its gravity and the ways to avoid such abuse is fundamental to the prevention of further such incidents to occur.
It is very important for our society to be made aware that sexual violence has NO EXCUSE—no matter how close or friendly the relationship had been. Every individual has a right to guard her boundaries of decency ( whatever she chooses them to be) and that no one has the right to trespass those limits no matter how close that person happens to be.
I present here some of the dark facts and stark statistics about of the sexual violence from the international data, which holds true for ALL places:


1.Sexual violence occurs throughout the world.(Based on Panel on Violence Against Women, 1993).

2 Although in most countries there has been little research conducted on the problem, available data suggest that in some countries nearly one in four women may experience sexual violence by an intimate partner , and up to one-third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced. That’s more than one per minute (Based on the Violence Against Women Survey, Statistics Canada, 1993).

3.One in three women victims of sexual assault were assaulted by a friend or casual acquaintance; one in four by a family member including an uncle, a cousin, a father(yes!), a brother or an ex-spouse (Tremblay, 1999).

4.Young women between the ages of 16 and 21 are at the highest risk of sexual assault (Women’s Safety Project, 1993).

5.An estimated 83 per cent of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Stimpson and Best, 1991).

6.One in six boys is sexually abused before age 17 (Bagley,1994).

Who Commits Sexual Assault?

1. Women are twice as likely to be assaulted by a man they know than by a stranger (Statistics Canada, 1993). They can include friends, acquaintances, boyfriends, co-workers, or relatives.

2. Offenders come from all ages, classes, sexual orientations, professions, and ethno-cultural backgrounds.
Effects of Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault may create emotional and physical health difficulties in the victim’s life.

A survivor may be feeling overwhelmed by many different emotions, but it is important to know that once they are able to express their feelings with supportive helpers, these emotions will lessen over time. (I wish Sharmila Farooqui knew this !)

While some survivors may experience all of the reactions described below, others may experience only a few.

Some emotions/feelings survivors may experience are:

Shock, disbelief, numbness, confusion
Self-blame, shame, guilt
Fearfulness, insecurity, nervousness
Nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, panic
Sadness, loss, depression
Loss of trust in self and others
Feeling a loss of control, powerlessness, helplessness
Anger, feeling betrayed.
Some physical reactions survivors may experience are:
Changes in eating (loss of appetite, nausea) and sleeping patterns (i.e. nightmares)
Headaches and fatigue
Possible symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases or injuries related to the assault
Body pain (soreness, backache, bruising).

Myths and Realities:

Myth: Sexual assault is not a common problem.
Reality: Every day women and men, girls and
boys experience sexual assault at home, at school,
at work, and on the street. In 1993, the
Panel on Violence Against Women estimated that
two out of three women have experienced sexual

Myth: Women or girls  lie about being sexually assaulted,
often because they feel guilty about having sex.
Reality: Women rarely make false reports about
sexual assault. In reality, sexual assault is an
under-reported crime. Only six per cent of sexual
assaults are ever reported to police (Statistics
Canada, 1993) and only one per cent of
date/acquaintance rapes are reported to police
(Russell, 1984).

Myth: Sexual assault is most often committed by
Reality: Women are twice as likely to be assaulted
by a man they know than by a stranger
(Statistics Canada, 1993). Women face the greatest
risk of sexual assault from men they know,
not strangers. When a woman knows the man
who sexually assaults her, it is less likely that it
will be recognized as a crime, even by her.
Whether a sexual assault is committed by someone
you know, or by a stranger, it is still a crime.

Myth: Women who are sexually assaulted “ask
for it” by the way they dress or act.
Reality: No woman ever “asks” or deserves to
be sexually assaulted. Whatever a woman wears,
wherever she goes, whomever she talks to, “no”
means “no.” It is the law. The idea that women
“ask for it” puts the blame on the victim/
survivor for the crime, instead of the offender.

What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Take whatever steps are necessary to make yourself safe.
Seek medical attention.
Decide whom you want to tell.
Do not blame yourself.
Allow yourself to feel and express the variety of emotions that are commonly experienced.
Remember that you are not alone.
There are many people willing to help you through this.

How To Support People That Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Respect whatever choices they make. It is important that they have control over their own life and the decisions they make.
Believe them.
Be supportive by listening.
Find out what help is available in your community.
Provide them with the information and accompany them when they access services.

I think it is time that we start looking at things from the view point of finding solutions, ways of getting self help in such grave matters and making it our moral obligation to inform ourselves, our young daughters and SONS, our sisters and BROTHERS, and friends about the issue of SEXUAL VIOLENCE, instead of just ‘crying foul’ and ‘demanding justice’ about one isolated incident.

My media friends, are you listening?

A mobile/ computer game developed by our company ZMQ for METRAC.CA about Awareness on  Sexual Violence.

Ilmana Fasih
21 DECEMBER 2010

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