Only 1% of women who face sexual violence and want to seek help end up reporting it to the police according to the National Family Health Survey, 2005-06. Let us flip this. 99 out 100 women who seek help do not approach the police!
Alarming? Read on.
Nearly two-thirds of women who have ever faced violence (physical and sexual) never seek help. In cases of only sexual violence, only 15% have ever told anyone about their experience and only 8% of women ever seek help!
Think about those of us who are not informed enough and think of communities in which even conversations about sexual violence are taboo. How do we then increase the rate of reporting of sexual violence to the police?
What adds to the problem is the poor knowledge about reporting procedures and about our rights. That we need to help each other out, stay informed, listen and encourage people to report to the police is clearer than ever.
This is why we, at Amnesty International India, started the ‘Know Your Rights’ initiative. We want to inform people about laws, procedures and individual rights related to reporting sexual violence. We have created educational modules that we can use as conversation starters. We can help each other out.
Here are 8 things that ‘Know Your Rights’ wants you to know today about reporting sexual violence in India:
- Sexual violence does not only include physical harm. The law was changed in 2013 to cover a broader range of offences, including sexual harassment, voyeurism and stalking.
- One can file an FIR against sexual violence in any police station, not necessarily the one nearest to the incident.
- One can register a complaint either over phone or e-mail. But to complete the FIR registration one must visit a police station.
- An FIR can be filed by a friend, witness or a family member too. But they must have the full consent of the survivor and the survivor must be willing to be part of the investigations later.
- If a survivor of sexual violence is physically or mentally disabled, a police officer must visit the survivor to register the FIR.
- Police cannot refuse to file an FIR. If refused, the police officer can be punished under lawand you can register a complaint with higher authorities.
- A woman police officer must be present when you file an FIR against sexual violence.
- After registering an FIR, one is entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. But it is good to consult your own lawyer.
Amnesty International India and the Bengaluru Police came together in July 2015 to start a unique initiative that encourages active community participation in reporting sexual violence with safety and dignity.
In addition, Amnesty International India has started the ‘Know Your Rights‘ programme to educate people about reporting sexual violence. They do this via virtual reality, e-learning, WhatsApp and a missed call service that has been made available free of cost.
Think about each of us using these tools to helping 10 of friends or 10 women in our local community. We could solve the first problem – the problem of poor knowledge.
Importantly, for this initiative to work, we, as a community need to work with the police. As the then Bengaluru commissioner said, “We are, after all, your police.”