The Many Forms of Victim Shaming

I often get to see that people are sympathetic towards victims of sexual abuse, especially child victims. But it’s not exactly what the need of the hour is. We want people to empathise with the victims of sexual abuse. Now to understand what it is to empathise, let me tell of some of the ways in which we are actually victim blaming and victim shaming, and sometimes unknowingly siding with the accused:
1: First, stop victim blaming and victim shaming . How?
In a recent crime against a female child of age 7 where she was raped, murdered and then put on fire to destroy the evidence, I read posts of how irresponsible a parent, especially the mother, could be to go for shopping while letting the child play with her peer group. Well, this is victim blaming.  Because the most important point to be noted in this situation is that there was a predator in the building. And all efforts should go into stopping these predators! Also, let’s not forget most of the sexual crimes happen within the households. Incestuous crimes. In the above incident, the only person who was at fault was the beast who preyed on the little angle. God alone knows how many more children were subjected to his insanity.
2. Encourage reporting of crimes. When I say encouraging I emphasize on encouraging ones own children to speak. Help children to open up. Stop believing and making others believe that being sexually violated is a shame to the girl. It should be the other way round. We as a society should learn to shame and blame the culprit. We as a society should learn to punish the ones who believe that the victim can be silenced for fear of being shamed. Allow our children to talk. Know and let others know the rights to speak on being abused sexually.
3. Let’s not feel that we have done our part after being part of candle light protests. The real work lies in getting maximum conviction of the accused, and that should be the aim for every citizen if you care for your own safety and for that of your loved ones. Only quick and fitting punishments for the predators can bring about a change in our society. While I say this, I condemn the judiciary and our legal system to let the accused of a sexual crime involving children , out on bail. In many cases, these bails are given within a period of just 30 days of being arrested and remanded. Shame on those who speak of child sexual abuse and police negligence but dare not speak against the legal system which grants bail on humanitarian grounds, forgetting the child who is completely neglected of her humanitarian rights. More terrifyingly,  quite often the accused let out on bail lives quite close to her , thereby terrorizing her every single day. Imagine the accused buying out the politically appointed and ignorant public prosecutor who will favour the accused and get him acquitted. How can we sit back and rely on a judicial system that lets this happen to the most innocent amongst us? To all those who light candles and march out on streets shouting slogans on child rights, take a minute and think about questioning why there are so many cases of acquittal in POCSO related cases. Should you not focus your energies towards extracting an answer for this? Why does the child who gives a formal complaint and gives her statement to a magistrate turn hostile in the later part of the legal process, which in most cases takes years to complete? What makes the child and her family back off? Shame on the judicial system for being highly irresponsible for not completing the case within the mandated time frame. We are not doing our part if we don’t question the judgment based on a baseless argument of the defense lawyer. We are not doing our part if we allow a public prosecutor neglect his or her duty to defend the victim.
I have often heard people wash off their hands by saying “A child would never speak of an abuse, what can anybody do”. This attitude should change.
Fear for the legal system can make wonders happen. In a recent case of Nakshatra NGO assisted the prosecution and got the accused the minimum punishment of 10 years for the crime of putting his genitals into a child’s mouth. In the end, the defense lawyer was visibly furious that I, being the petitioner, was so cruel to put an “innocent boy” of only 26 years behind bars, thereby ruining his life! So to him , who is a well established senior lawyer ,the accused did not commit any crime by putting his genitals into the mouth of a helpless 6 year old, and it was more concerning that the 26 year old would not be able to live life to the fullest! I burst out laughing at the ridiculousness. Each one of us should laugh at such morons. This should change. We as a society should focus on not just reporting crimes but it’s also our duty to ensure justice for the victim, which is a tedious process in our judicial system. But let’s not think for a minute that it is impossible. Let’s all help to make it possible.
Sherin Bosko


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