A few days ago, Instagram was flooded with #MeToo allegation posts against a famous Tattoo Studio owner in Kochi. Apart from supporting the survivors, various awareness messages were spread too. Amidst this, there were several others who questioned the use of social media posts to talk about it. Many even blamed the survivors for not registering an official complaint soon enough. People have even assumed that these are strategies used to acquire fame and increase followers on Instagram. It is true that anything being served on social media needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it does not justify victim-blaming.
Let’s take a walk through some of the most common questions that promote victim-blaming.
Why do girls have to get tattoos on their private parts?
This was definitely one of the most common questions asked by a majority of people. Well, the answer to this one is quite simple – “Why not?”.
Regardless of our gender identification, shouldn’t we all have the freedom to decide what to do with our bodies? After all, aren’t we the sole owner of our bodies?
The tattoo parlour in question is a place that is frequented by celebrities and has high ratings and reviews. Is it wrong for a person to feel that such a place would be safe and professional to get a tattoo done regardless of where it is to be positioned?
Put your thinking caps on, do a deep dive and ask yourself if this question is even valid.
So you made your own decision and now this happened to you, who is to be blamed in this scenario?
Well, brothers and sisters, this is called Victim Blaming. You might have made the decision to get a tattoo on your private part but that doesn’t give permission to predators to sexually assault you. The only person to be blamed in this situation is the assaulter and never you.
And to all those who ask this question, you are the reason why most of the survivors choose to remain silent. The only way to create an inclusive environment for people to speak up is by avoiding victim-blaming. The more you blame, the more you instil confidence in the predators to continue their activities.
So next time you hear something similar to this question, your answer to them should be – “The blame is on the predator and the one who asks this question”.
Why share posts on social media and not file an official complaint?
When in time of need, all of us reach out to our trusted friends. Fortunately or unfortunately, for the majority of today’s generation, their trusted friend is social media. Most of us have been brought up seeing influencers speaking up about their experiences, sharing advice and creating a safe place for themselves on social media. This is what pushes each one of us to open up on social media. We trust this source to spread our word and maybe help bring us justice.
That said, I am not justifying that social media overrides the judiciary system. Definitely, an Instagram post is not going to ensure that the culprit is punished. But it is a small step towards making that possible. Let’s just accept it, how many of us are comfortable going to a police station and filing a complaint? There is a lack of awareness among people regarding the workings of the judiciary system. All we know is what we hear – delayed cases, court hearings, social stigma from media reports etc.
This 18-year-old person put up ‘just’ a social media post and created a movement. It made more survivors open up and finally give some of them the courage to file that official complaint.
Why didn’t these girls stop him?
Firstly, Conditioning – The majority of us are not taught how to say ‘No’. The word ‘No’ is still seen in all its negative glory. When a child is brought up to be polite, obedient, adjusting and not to forget, respectful of elders, how do you expect such a person to be able to say ‘No’?
Secondly, Lack of awareness – When one is being sexually assaulted, it might take minutes or even hours for the person to understand what is happening. Most of the time, the survivors may even go through self-doubt, assuming that they are overthinking the situation This is mostly because of a lack of awareness about aspects such as good touch, bad touch or how to react in such situations. Since people are not conditioned or made aware to be cautious of such acts, most of the time the victims just freeze during the assault.
Thirdly, Shock and fear – Even if one is aware of what is happening and understand that it is wrong and that they are being violated, the shock and fear of being in such a situation can also render the victim to not raise a finger. In this case, particularly, the assaulter is holding a needle against your body, how many of us would react in such a scenario?
There could be many more reasons why a victim fails to stop a culprit. Regardless of what the reason is, the only person to be blamed is the culprit and never the survivor.
Why did these girls not speak up before?
They fear society and how they would be perceived in the eyes of Victim Blamers. Even due to lack of support, many a time, it is the near and the dear ones of the survivors who are responsible for victim-blaming.
So if you want survivors to speak up, then avoid criticism and judgements, respect their space and privacy and spread awareness about the various legal policies and methods that are in place for their protection such as the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) at Workplace Act of India.
The number of criticisms faced by survivors would be a lot more than what is covered above. So before criticising, let us exercise empathy, try to be in their shoes and understand what they would be going through. Maybe then our opinions might change. And to all the advisors, it is very easy to give advice when you are not the one affected. After all, playing football on the field is far more challenging than watching it on TV. Finally to all the survivors, kudos to your bravery for holding on and fighting against the demons.