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Breaking the cycle of sexual abuse

Shreyash Manak Bohara

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

-16 December 2012-

This day was one of the worst days in my country, India. India saw one of the most cruel rape in history. Yes, I’m talking about Jyoti Singh gang rape which happened in Delhi on a moving bus.

Jyoti was coming back after watching a movie in a theatre and it was around 9:30 pm. She got onto a bus with her male friend. There were 5 men in the bus already including the bus driver. The bus deviated from the normal route and that’s when Jyoti and her friend were concerned. The men hit Jyoti’s friend head with a metal rod and he was unconscious.

Jyoti was dragged at the rear of the bus while getting hitted by metal rod. They started to rape Jyoti and she attempted to fight the assailants but those men brutally raped her. They penetrated the metal rod and it caused serious injuries to Jyoti's abdomen and intestines.

On 29 December 2012 Jyoti passed away. Jyoti had a dream to be school teacher and she was studying physiotherapy.

Whole country was shocked by this and there were protests on the streets. I was about 14 at that time and I thought this was the extreme and rape will stop.

Well it’s 2018 and just recently there was another brutal rape of a 8 year old girl in India.

I’ve come to realize my position in this issue. Directly or indirectly I’m part of the problem and I’ve decided that I’m going to act on it. If I don’t speak up then I’m contributing to the culture of toxic masculinity and so do other men.

I’ve come to realize, that if I ignore comments when men make fun of women or objectify them then I’m contributing to rape culture and I can’t be doing that anymore.

Recently I spoke at TEDx where I gave talked about what can we do on individual level to stop rape on college campuses. Our team have also been working on a real time anonymous chat platform for rape survivors where rape survivors can chat for crisis counselling, through my startup SafeSpaceforMe.

I’ve been a part of workshops with another organization, Stand for State where we give training on bystander intervention which in simple words mean, if you see something you say something. It doesn’t involve punching the person but by using simple methods anyone can intervene.

The problem of Rape and Sexual Harassment is a complex one; the taboo of talking about it is making the problem worse. It is time we start integrating such conversations into our society so that we can prevent cases like Jyoti's and make our communities safe spaces for every women out there.

Shreyash Manak Bohara is a Pennsylvania State University graduate who founded SafeSpaceforMe, a start up which provides a safe haven for sexual harassment victims to talk about their incidents in order to overcome mental barriers and come up with potential solutions regarding such incidents

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