Demanding 100% conviction of culprits buying sex from minors and trafficked victims
~Convictions to instil fear among customers and deter them to indulge in forced child prostitution~
~To end the culture of shame and create a supportive environment for women and child victims~
~Indian Citizens to pledge support through a missed call on 7822001155~In its collective bid to achieve 100% conviction rate in cases of sexual violence, the Dignity March, comprising survivors of rape and sexual violence, arrived in Kolkata today after striding through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. With their arrival in Kolkata, the ten-thousand-kilometre March is gaining strength as thousands of participants proceed towards ending the culture of shame and fear among victims, instead instilling fear of conviction in culprits.
Disturbingly,the latest National Crime Record Bureau 2016, of the total 15,379 victims trafficked in India, 58.7% were children. Most of these children are trafficked for sex-work (or Commercial Sexual Exploitation). The report also highlights a grim situation for children and women in West Bengal. As per the data, reported cases of crime against children has increased by a staggering 311% from 1706 in 2012 to 7004 in 2016, while crime against women has seen an increaseof5% from 30,942in 2012 to 32,513 in 2016:
– West Bengal is ranked 2ndbased on percentage of incidents of crime against women in 2016
– Dismal conviction rate of 10.2% in crime against children with95.1% Case Pendency rate in the state
– 3.3% Conviction rate for crime against women with 96.3% Case Pendency rate in the state
On its arrival in Kolkata, Dignity March organized an event to discuss the situation around Sexual Violence and Rape against children and women in West Bengal and India.During the event, Ashif Shaikh, Convenor, Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, Dignity March along with survivors of rape and sexual violence, highlighted the important role of reporting cases and further advancing the cause.
Ashif Shaikhsaid,“We need to support the victims of sexual crimes, especially in cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children, as minors are vulnerable and need constant support from their families and society. In the past, our governments and laws have taken a reactive approach towards tackling this issue but now it is time to take robust proactive measures to create deterrence among “customers” who buy sex with children. And 100% conviction is the only solution which can instil fear in culprits and thus put an end to this menace.
Dignity March also calls for end of victim shaming and humiliation of perpetrators and create fear among the culprits that their crime won’t go unpunished. While many organisations are working on rescue and support to victims, we collective need to work on prevention of these heinous crimes. Higher conviction rate will lead to deterrence and hence there is need for stronger actions by law enforcement against the perpetrators, who in absence of any legal action, as children and parents do not report the matter, get encouragement for pursuing their heinous behaviour.”
Anita (name changed), survivor of CSEC, narrated her struggle “While there is anger in the society against rape, child rape or gang rape but child prostitution is equivalent to serial rape of children. I suffered daily for almost 2 years just because few men would pay Rs. 300-400 to buy rights to humiliate my body. I want those monsters to be arrested and put behind bars.”
With Indian Parliament recently passing an amendment to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, there is increased potential to hold these criminals of sexual violence against children and minors, accountable for their heinous actions.
The Dignity March is rooted in a national online survey conducted by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan. The survey, ‘Speak Out!’ was conducted to determine the intensity of sexual violence against women and children and to bring out the voice of the survivors. The survey revealed that an alarming number of people have faced sexual violence, but 95% of the incidents of sexual violence against women and children are not reported, and the ‘victim’ is shamed and is under constant fear of stigmatization by the society. Especially, in case of children, most crimes go unnoticed and there is negligible conviction which leads to impunity among culprits. The survey also reveals that the government data of incidents of sexual violence against women and children is less valid as only 2% of incidents have been reported to the Police.
The Dignity March conceptualized and initiated by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, in association with several like-minded organizations, is a sixty-five day national march witnessing survivors joined by their family members and other stakeholders travelling 10,000 KM in 200 districts of 24 States in India. The Dignity March was kicked-started from Mumbai on 20th December, 2018, by over 5000 survivors along with their family members and several prominent members of the society. It will culminate on 22ndFebruary 2019 in Delhi. To know more about the march, please visit https://dignitymarch.org/