Sexual assault is when someone forces you to have any kind of sexual contact against your will. COURTESY
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign, observed each April, to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Sexual Assault Awareness month began in April 2001 and April 2022 marks the official 21st anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year during the month of April, state, NGOs, government agencies, businesses, campuses and individuals plan events and activities to highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.
Sexual assault is when someone forces you to have any kind of sexual contact against your will. It can have many forms, like: Rape, Molestation, Unwanted sexual contact of any other form, Sexual harassment, Incest, Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual violence, even with an intimate partner, Indecent assault, Human trafficking.
Globally, 1 in 3 women become victim of violence during their lifetime. According to Bangladesh Bureau of statistics, about 84% of women in Bangladesh are constantly being sexually harassed on the road, vehicles, educational institutions, at work, in online and even at home. According to a report of UNIFEM, every one out of ten women has a possibility to get raped at least once in her life time over the world. Men also are at risk of being sexually assaulted. 1 in 10 men experience sexual harassment. And the most dreadful part is that child sexual abuses are also increasing alarmingly. A total of 1,383 children were sexually abused in 2019 [Bangladesh Child Rights Forum].
The cruel fact is that people of every age, race, sex, national origin, socioeconomic background, and religion suffer the pain and trauma of sexual assault. It may lead one towards mental trauma. Even the victims don’t get a comfortable environment to share what happened to them because we give them nothing but blame. In our patriarchal society, the agents of patriarchy always tend to find out flaws in order to blame women and suppress them; therefore, when a girl is raped rather than focusing on the perpetrator, patriarchal society point out finger on that girl and start asking what the girl was doing there, what she was wearing, why she was there after evening, why she was not wearing Burkha or Hijab etc. meaningless questions. Even the police sometimes try to charge the rape victim with false allegations if the girl is raped by any powerful person of the society.
Sexual assault is also a public health crisis. Tragically, many of those assaulted are young, and research shows that these assaults can have lifelong effects on health and are linked to chronic illnesses.
During National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring that every person can live a life free from sexual violence. In order to do so, the victim must contact the law enforcement agencies first without fear or shame, immediate responses that must be taken after an act of sexual assault or rape to preserve evidences and testimonies in order to solidify the victim’s case. The one stop crisis center can help the victim suggesting what should be done and may also refer her to the police after emergency medical care. The obstacles that the Hijra and transgender communities of Bangladesh face regarding sexual assault, should be monitored equally.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities
To learn more about how to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence and support survivors, at first you have to know more about proper sex education.
Volunteer or donate
Many wonderful organizations or NGOs do the vital work of advocating for better laws, counseling survivors, and developing educational campaigns. You can donate your time or money to a worthy organization to help them keep their operations going.
Attend an event
Find your local public event honoring Sexual Assault Awareness Month and show your solidarity with the cause.
Use #SAAM, #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth, or #SexualAssaultAwareness to post on social media. This month, use your voice and any platform you have to help end sexual assault in the worldwide. If we attend these activities from our own respective places, sexual violence will decrease a little at least, I dare to hope.
* Author is an Undergraduate Fellow, Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka