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sabato 26 novembre 2016

#BreakTheSilence on Rape Culture

Smita Sharma was molested by a professor and then, her cousin committed suicide after facing abuse. Today, this photojournalist traverses India to hear the stories of rape survivors. 

The men in the village don’t want Shanta to talk to an outsider about what was clearly an “internal matter”. The sarpanch had sent a warning through the health worker, strongly suggesting, that Smita be careful about not bringing shame to the village by speaking to these women, but Smita’s determination to record Shanta’s story was bigger than any threat the sarpanch could make. 

Nobody has asked Shanta how her life changed after that fateful night. Nobody has uttered the word “rape” but that day, for the first time, someone will come asking, and Shanta will speak. She knows, like Smita does, that if no record of her horrific rape ever exists, it will be like it never happened.

Steeling herself for the emotional rollercoaster that was soon going to follow, Smita raises her hand and knocks on the door.

Sexual abuse haunts Smita’s waking moments. It also surfaces as nightmares. Her childhood was marked by the horror in more ways that one. As an adolescent, she was molested by a trusted professor in college, and years later, the crime repeated itself, a hundred times worse, when her innocent 13-year-old cousin Kamalika Das was molested in school by a classmate. “She was very close to me. I was in Std X when she was born. As her elder sister, she brought out all my protective instincts,” Smita says. When her little sister tearfully confessed, Smita reeled in horror. “Kamalika’s father was travelling when this happened. She called me and I knew exactly what she wanted. All she wanted to know was that it was not her fault.”

Unfortunately, the school’s principal, who was a woman, did not think so. She ridiculed Kamalika, called her an arrogant child, and threatened to expel her for attracting undue attention. The school and some of its teachers ganged up on Kamalika. What followed was a spate of character attacks for four years – four long years of being punished for small misdemeanours, being ridiculed in class. But she stood up against them all because she had Smita on her side, Smita who had convinced her that she had not done anything wrong. But, in the end, the accusations of the world became a burden she could not bear. When Kamalika was suspended for not completing an assignment and her mother insulted for “not raising her child properly”, she (Kamalika) committed suicide by jumping out of a seventh-floor window.

Kamalika’s death changed Smita’s life forever. “I was like a wild horse after my cousin’s death. It was an institutional murder. No one should lose their identity, their dreams or their lives because of an abuse that the world does not even acknowledge.”

The silence of abuse survivors screams out loud in a culture that accuses them of provocation instead of offering protection. The silence wouldn’t let Smita sleep. She was haunted by the idea of giving these women, if not justice, then at least a voice. She’d been a photojournalist for many years, but now she had a responsibility. She had been dabbling with the idea of a project that documented rape in India, but after Kamalika’s death it acquired a new meaning.

It was an ambitious project, one for which Smita had no funds. An editor friend from New York suggested crowdfunding and “Stories of Rape & Sexual Violence in India” was launched as a project on Kickstarter. The response was tremendous. In 45 days, it raised more than $30,000 from across 30 countries.

Smita packed her bags and flew to India.

It’s been 19 months since then, and Smita has covered West Bengal, Haryana, Delhi, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand and documented 35 cases of rape like Shanta’s. During interviews, Smita sits with the women, talks to them, eats with them. Sometimes she doesn’t use her camera at all. She never prods them, but the story always comes out. There have been times when she could not shoot because she was crying so hard, shattered by the stories she kept hearing again and again.

Smita has met teenage mothers who were made to marry their rapists, girls who were raped on their long commute to school, or some when they went out in the fields at night to defecate. A young mother, whose six-year-old daughter’s broken body was discarded like a rag doll by her rapist, asked Smita brokenly, “Why did he have to kill my daughter?”

Rape is not an easy subject to live with. The stories leave their mark on Smita and there are days when she cannot eat. “I meet these survivors and all of them have a different story, but the dead eyes staring into the darkness remain the same.”

Smita plans to be on the road for another two years, raising money along the way to fund her project and also helping these girls by donating bicycles. She doesn’t know when it will end or what it’s going to take, to shift the needle even an inch. If nothing comes out of the stories she’s collected, it doesn’t matter to Smita.

What’s important is that the story has been told.

With inputs from Kangana Sachdev

Smita is currently raising funds to purchase bicycles for victims of sexual assault. You can contribute at

The Deafening Silence of the Rape Survivor SHARAN SAIKUMAR AUG. 04, 2016

Chronicles of Courage — Smita Sharma

"Unearthed: Stories of Courage in the Face of Sexual Violence" initiates a visual dialogue on rape and sexual assault in India


Bhola people protest at gang-rape, murder of schoolgirl 9 novembre 2016

Protest in India over 2-year-old's rape 28 ottobre 2016

Indian schoolgirls protest against rising rapes 18 ottobre 2016

Anti-Rape Technique 2 NOVEMBRE 2016

Red Brigade teaches girls to 'beat' harassers 12 SETTEMBRE 2016

Red Brigade: Figth The Rapist



Prya, la supereroina anti-stupro 16 DICEMBRE 2014

Rising rape cases in Pakistan 3 novembre 2016

Over 450 minors raped in Delhi this year 7 agosto 2016

8,800 children raped in India in 2015 31 agosto 2016

Over 34,600 rape cases in India in 2015 31 agosto 2016

Child rapes on the rise in Bangladesh 25 novembre 2016

The Cry of India’s Daughters 31 agosto 2016

Gang Rape Nightmare 25 NOVEMBRE 2016

Rape porn videos extraordinarily popular in India 7 agosto 2016

Rape videos for sale in India 2 novembre 2016

India, Rape videos on WhatsApp 21 novembre 2016

Rape videos drive victims to suicide in India 7 novembre 2016

Rape Porn Culture 1 NOVEMBRE 2016

A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) and НеМолчи (Don’t keep quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari, a well-known TV producer.
“…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall.
Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence.
When she was 20, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter purportedly had brought to the family. Dina was left alone with her tragedy.
#IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media world is shocking in itself.
After reading many of these stories, I decided to take a closer look at the official statistics on violence against women in Kazakhstan.
The latest information available from the Statistics Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy shows that 341,291 crimes were committed in 2014, with more than a third of these constituting violence against women.
In general, data provided by crisis centres, the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office have a lot of discrepancies on domestic violence.
But we do know that during the first half of 2016, 315 women committed suicide in Kazakhstan. Most of these cases are directly related to domestic violence, according to the Prosecutor General.
Even if more statistics were available, they would probably not capture the entire scale of the problem as many cases go unreported, just like Dina’s.
What can we do to change that pattern?
A survey conducted by UNDP Kazakhstan showed us that women who have suffered from violence need psychological rehabilitation, legal consultation and violence prevention support. So we are collaborating with the Kazakh Ministry of Interior Affairs to build a network of crisis centres and shelters for victims of domestic violence.
However, this work needs to be complemented with efforts to achieve gender equality on a broader scale.
In Kazakhstan, women now run over 40 percent of small and medium-sized businesses and account for 27.1 percent of parliamentarians – exceeding the world average of 22.1 percent.
But we still have a long way to go until we achieve an equal society for women and men.
This is why we are providing women, particularly from rural areas, with access to economic opportunities. Having access to their own income affords women the choice to make independent decisions in areas such as marriage, lifestyle and jobs. It also helps them feel more secure in reporting cases of sexual assault and domestic violence to the authorities.
Dina says that her personal experience can provide hope for other women. She is now working to set up a crisis centre for other victims of violence.
“I don’t want this story to be just another account of sexual violence. And I don’t want it to be perceived as utter desperation. There is a silver lining to it.”
As development organizations, and as women, we can honour that wish in many different ways. We just have to be willing to speak up and take a stand.

"I’m not afraid to tell" 24 Nov 2016  

#IamNotAfraidtoTell How Kazakh women are breaking the silence on gender-based violence  by Dina Teltayeva

Kazakhstan starts castrating pedophiles 9 settembre 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 6 12 NOVEMBRE 2016

"Project Xan": Rape Culture On Stage 9 NOVEMBRE 2016

Life After Rape 4 8 NOVEMBRE 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 5 29 OTTOBRE 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 4 29 AGOSTO 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 3 28 AGOSTO 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 2 18 agosto 2016

Anti-Rape Protest 12 agosto 2016

Indonesia: uomini in gonna contro violenza sulle donne 3 NOVEMBRE 2016 

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