#AskedForIt | Flipping the conversation on abuse

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Every instance of rape, eve teasing and sexual harassment inevitably raises a furore over the victim’s choice of clothes and her lifestyle, coupled with cringe-worthy statements that blame her for not being  ‘more careful’. Such misguided reactions, no matter how well-intentioned, exonerate the perpetrators of their deeds. This practice of victim-blaming is the most repugnant platitude that the society resorts to in order to justify the ceaseless practices of sexual harassment. This has become so rampant that it is, inadvertently, getting us acclimatised to the inherent patriarchal mindset of our society. However, such a coerced silence always exacerbates the problem.

This is precisely why Aakanksha Bhattacharyya started #AskedForIt, a collaborative, not-for -profit initiative, which is aimed at dismantling the reprehensible practice of victim-blaming by bringing the perpetrator to the forefront, to be blamed and shamed for his/her deed. By making it explicit that the perpetrator asked for the ignominy that is heaped on him, it aims to condemn the society’s propensity to disgrace the victim in question. “Through AFI, we hope to highlight the consequences of sexual crimes (online and on-ground)…to deter potential perpetrators and to assure victims that they (the victims) are not in the wrong, no matter what their lifestyle…that they should speak up and share their stories.”, says Aakanksha.

The Fatsmeagol Collective is actively backing this brilliant campaign because we are passionate about working towards expunging the forces of patriarchy that are still beleaguering our society. Merolin Dsouza, our Relationship Executive, says, “While the whole world looks at the victim as the cause of any case of sexual harassment, it is really nice to see people working towards reversing this equation and I am even happier that our team is a part of it.”

The society always seems to unabashedly proclaim that the victim asked for it because of her alleged aberration from societal norms, reinforcing the notion that it is justified to rape a woman who deviates from society’s diktats. We find ourselves at loggerheads with a mentality that deems a woman an object of pleasure, as something to be patronised and dominated; and perceives man as the ultimate power-holder, capable of punishing and holding women accountable if they deviate from the norms dictated for them. We have had enough of such gibberish and this campaign is an efficacious step towards changing this patriarchal mindset.

Our Chief Amazement Officer, Ishita Shelat, says, “We love working for social causes which have the potential to bring about a change. The Digital Climate March was our previous initiative. We have, predominantly, women in our workforce and we work with mostly female bloggers who get a lot of lewd comments under their pictures. This is another reason why we were inspired to be a part of this campaign. We want to shift the blame from the victim to the perpetrator and urge women to talk about their personal experiences of sexual harassment because there’s always a reluctance to talk about such things. We also want to shift the focus away from what the woman was wearing or what hour she went out, and put it on the perpetrator’s deeds.” She participated in this campaign by sharing her inspiring story on Facebook. Read the entire story by clicking on the picture below:

An excerpt from the same is given below:

“One day, I encountered a man who would slide his hand through the seat to just touch whatever part he could get. I’d observed him on the bus with many failed attempts to touch unsuspecting women. I had grown and was 13 now. My school still the same. I felt him touch me from the edge of the seat which is slightly open and he did this 2 or 3 times over. I gathered courage, stood up and asked him loudly and sternly. “Haath lagane se aapko kya milta hai? Aapki beti ko aise hi haath lagaoge?” He was so ashamed with me bringing his dirty act out in the public that he got down on the next stop, never to be seen on the 8:15 bus again. I think victims of sexual harassment and assault should be encouraged to share their stories. I know it’s difficult because even sharing this small incident took me some time, but it helps – you and others.”

Khushboo Grewal also participated in this campaign by sharing her story on Facebook.

Following is an excerpt from it:

“I remember once back in college, I was at a New Year’s Eve celebration in one of the coveted and premium clubs of Chandigarh, and amidst all the chaos and crowd I felt someone pinch my backside. My instant reaction was to turn around and slap who ever was standing behind me.. I yelled at this guy in the dark and seeing me some other girls started hitting him too. He was ousted from the club by the security immd (viz. immediately) and that’s just how his New Years was.. well.. all I can say is he #askedforit”

Some of the bloggers associated with us also actively participated in this campaign, taking to social media to talk about their own experiences of objectification and sexism. The following are some excerpts from their social media posts:

Sakshi Pradhan:

“If anyone harasses me or shows me hate, I immediately put them in their place. I have fought, reported and exposed them. We no longer have any place for abusers in our society! My dear women, out your perpetrator. Put him under the public eye. He #AskedForIt when he touched you. Share stories when you stood up to a molester/eve-teaser/rapist. Inspire others to do the same.”

Lahoti Shivangi:

“We need to rise together and shame the ones who deserve our shame. Let no one ever tell a girl she #AskedForIt but let us together show these perverts that they #AskedForIt!”.

Elyseah Shaikh:

“Irrespective of what I wear or don‟t wear. Irrespective of what the time of the day is. Irrespective of who I am with or what I am doing. Irrespective of what you think I am telling you. Irrespective of whether or not you can see my “bra strap”. Until I have explicitly #AskedForIt, do not assume or presume that I have #AskedForIt.”

Saily Patre:

“Should I always be under a veil, a pallu, a dupatta? While they shamelessly walk around head held high?Should I always be behind the doors, ‘safe’ inside? While all the corners of the roads are their hangouts?Should I never see how my city looks like after 7 pm? While they blatantly stare at my breasts even during the day?Should I never wear what I want? While they take off any piece of clothing they please. Not theirs!”

As evident from the aforementioned cases, women everywhere are increasingly becoming assertive and vehement about their experiences of sexual harassment and society’s way of blaming them for the same. We have had enough of self-righteous politicians and moral policing agents brusquely trivialising issues of harassment by proclaiming “boys will be boys”. What we need is a change in this archaic attitude to eradicate the inherent patriarchal power equation in our society. We want you to join this movement because change starts from within. Contribute to the cause with your stories and let your perpetrators know that their crimes have serious consequences. Your voice matters.

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