At her recent presentation at TEDx Houses of Parliament, held at the QEII Conference Centre in London, Meera Vijayann discussed the difficulties that young women like her face in India in accessing their rights or finding a voice against everyday sexual harassment. The response was overwhelming, with many members of the audience sharing their own personal stories with Meera after the talk.
Several young men and women who approached me described at length the challenges in discussing these issues as they feared judgement from their family, their friends and peers. They talked to me about facing gender discrimination at work, witnessing abuse within their families and surviving sexual assault. Sexual violence is a global problem and we must work together towards ending it.
To begin with, we must break the taboo that surrounds sex. This is important so that people who face violence and harassment can not only talk about it but report it. In countries like India, victim blaming is common and crimes against women are often ignored by those in power as it is believed that women “invite rape” by dressing “provocatively”. And this includes the police, in certain parts of the world. So let us waste no time in taking action, the time is now. We’ve got to stop waiting for solutions.
Meera Vijayann is a writer and blogger who focuses on gender rights and social issues in India. Her writing has been published by The Guardian, CNN, Open Democracy and Forbes among other publications. Guest blogger at Time For Equality. Follow her on @meeravijayann