Anoushka Shankar stunned fans around the world this week after revealing she had been sexually abused by a family friend as a child. In a video posted on YouTube, Shankar says she had been groped, touched and verbally abused for years by a “a man my parents trusted implicitly.”
“As a woman, I find I am frequently living in fear,” said Shankar. “Afraid to walk alone at night, afraid to answer a man who asks for the time. Afraid I might be judged or mistreated in ways based on the way I choose to dress or the makeup I may choose to wear. And, you know, enough is enough.”
The video message was released as part of One Billion Rising, a campaign founded by American playwright Eve Ensler to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the V-Day movement to end violence against women. The New York Times reports that events are being held across India this Valentine’s Day as part of the One Billion movement.
The One Billion Rising movement and Shankar’s announcement both come on the heels of a troubling new Human Rights Watch report on child sexual abuse in India, which the report found was “disturbingly common.” It is estimated that 7200 Indian children are raped every year, with many more cases going unreported. HRW notes that one of the primary reasons many survivors of sexual abuse do not come forward is because of social stigmas. One father of a 12-year-old rape victim says he was urged not to report his daughter’s rape and saw the family of his older daughter withdraw its marriage proposal once the news got out. Another reason victims stay silent is due to the fact that police, government officials, and doctors are often unprepared to handle sexual abuse cases and that child welfare agencies are often woefully underfunded.
Included in its the lengthy list of recommendations to the Indian government was a plea to “[a]dopt and implement a protocol for the medical treatment and examination of victims of child sexual abuse, in accordance with guidelines developed by the World Health Organization.”
There was some positive news included in the HRW report. The organization notes that the May 2012 law outlawing child sexual abuse for the first time was “a major step forward” for India, and that most child advocates welcomed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The Human Rights Watch report “Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India” can be read in its entirety here.