"We need to remember that only one in 10 survivors of sexualised violence will go to police— a statistic that leaves room for improvement….. Victims of sexual violence suffer intensely…from being violated, and they fear being victimized again by having to relive their pain as they report the attack to the police. The pain can be worsened if the case goes through the judicial process, which often seems unsympathetic and judgmental. It’s no mystery why so many choose not to speak."

The above public statement has been made in the editorial of Times Colonist on June 11, 2016… a reputed newspaper of Victoria, BC in Canada. It was triggered by a public acknowledgement by the premier of this province Christy Clarke that she faced sexual assault as a teenager, but did not speak put so far. "I want women who have never said anything about sexual violence in their lives to know they are not alone," she said in the legislature.

As this debate and necessary legislative actions progress in Western Canada, it is important to acknowledge that sexual violence against girls and women is a contemporary universal phenomenon. It is critical that we create a climate of safety, warmth and support for victims of sexual violence to speak out, speak out quickly, loudly and unashamedly. It is a societal weakness that makes victims of sexual violence to remain silent, feel shame and guilt for actions of others– other men.

In Indian context, the above reality is manifested manifold. Most women have experienced some form of sexual violence as they grow up in our society. Laws and their enforcement are critical, as Canadians debate the same. Even more critical is public conversation about behaviors of men which lead to such actions. What is wrong with socialization of boys in our society that they can continue to treat girls and women as objects, as commodity? What is wrong with our socialization that makes girls and even to remain silent and feel afraid to speak out when they face sexual violence, at home, in school, on the streets?

The change has to begin from us, from our homes, and those of our relatives, neighbours and friends. If we begin to speak up, loud and clear, perhaps girls and women facing such violence will also speak up. And the growing voice will multiply into a crescendo.

Rajesh Tandon.

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