By Arré Bench Nov. 23, 2020
The #INeverAskForIt trend on Twitter is a spin-off of a project by the same name, which aims to end the culture of victim-blaming in the aftermath of sexual assaults. A woman or what she wears cannot be blamed for sexual abuse.
In a country like India, where violence against women and sexual assault are persistent problems, any time is a good time to begin a conversation about how survivors of these assaults should not be blamed. So it is refreshing to see the hashtag #INeverAskForIt trending on Twitter, amid all the usual social-media mudslinging. The hashtag has seen women coming forward to share their stories of being assaulted or made uncomfortable, only to have their choice of attire take the blame rather than the culprit. What their stories make crystal clear is that there is no such thing as a “safe” outfit, and that dressing modestly or boldly makes no difference if your attacker has ill intentions.
Unite against the systemic use of victim blame.
End the justification of violence against women, girls and all persons. Believe Survivors.
Step in to build the #INeverAskForIt Mission. pic.twitter.com/fyqnZe00XH
— Blank Noise #INeverAskForIt (@BlankNoise) November 18, 2020
The #INeverAskForIt trend is a spin-off of a project by the same name, by an activist group based out of Bangalore called Blank Noise. The “I Never Ask for It” project is engaged in collecting testimonies and exhibits of the clothes that survivors were wearing when they were assaulted. One of the group’s aims is to end the culture of victim-blaming in the aftermath of sexual assaults. “Every time somebody in a position of power is making a statement that justifies violence against women and sexual-agenda based violence through a process of victim blaming, they are enabling a certain kind of behaviour… They’re excusing violence,” said Jasmeen Patheja, the founder of Blank Noise, in an interview from 2017.
The conversation surrounding victim-blaming picked up after prominent journalists, politicians, celebrities, and influencers joined in.
That this even needs to be said. So say it, again and again and again. There is no dress, no relationship, no context, no hour, no moment, no gray zone. #INeverAskForIt
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 23, 2020
AAP’s Atishi shared a powerful message on Twitter. “If sexual assault had anything to do with what a woman did, a three month old girl wouldn’t have been raped in a hospital & a 5yr old daughter wouldn’t have been assaulted in Kathua,” she wrote.
If sexual assault had anything to do with what a woman did, a three month old girl wouldn't have been raped in a hospital & a 5yr old daughter wouldn't have been assaulted in Kathua.
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) November 23, 2020
Victim blaming demeans sexual assault survivors. Asking survivors what they wore or what time it was, unfairly takes the blame off the sexual offender and places it on the victim.
Let's remember victims don't cause rape. Rapists do. #INeverAskForIt
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) November 23, 2020
Singer Sona Mohapatra was one, who shared a story from her days as an engineering student.
During my BTech Engg, walking to the microprocessor lab in a loose khadi green kurta with a salwar.Seniors whistling, speculating loudly about my bra size. One ‘well wisher’ walked up & asked why I wasn’t wearing my dupatta ‘properly’, fully covering my ‘boobs’. #INeverAskForIt
— Sona Mohapatra (@sonamohapatra) November 23, 2020
Many others came forward with their own accounts as well.
Age 19. Went to a movie in a perfectly ordinary knit top. Got stared at, commented upon, grabbed. Which made male relative with me uncomfortable. Told me, "should have worn something more modest."
— Sandhya (@TheRestlessQuil) November 23, 2020
Once female seniors(same well wishers like urs😜)came to me during 1st year,tried covering my back by my own hanging dupatta there itself and said- "why don't u use spaghetti under kurta?Use it from next time,Your bra's strips are visible translucent under kurta"🙄 @sonamohapatra https://t.co/q9etA13b9Z
— Dr.Deepa Sharma (@deepadoc) November 23, 2020
Many survivors of sexual assault remain reluctant to come forward because of the stigma attached to the experience. Movements like #INeverAskForIt provide the perfect platform to fight that wrongful notion.