Sexual Abuse Survivors Are Using Snapchat for an Important Reason

July 12th 2016

Laura Donovan

A news publication in India is gaining attention for its video that allows sexual assault survivors to anonymously tell their stories with the help of Snapchat filters.

Hindustan Times Facebook

The video, which was published on the Hindustan Times Facebook page in late June, centers around the work of The Climb Against Sexual Abuse, a non-profit support organization for sexual assault survivors. The video shows several dozen people confronting the problem of sexual abuse at an organized gathering by the group in India.

The video also includes footage of sexual assault survivors under the age of 18 with Snapchat filters disguising their faces.

Hindustan Times mobile editor Yusuf Omar told Journalism.co.uk that he felt Snapchat was a particularly helpful and safe way for survivors to talk about their experiences, and that the participants got to choose their own filters for the video.

“Recording with a mask gave them the sense of legitimacy and security that I wasn’t going to be able to show their face, as opposed to trusting a journalist saying 'yes, we will blur you afterwards’, so they felt empowered and in control of the narrative," he said.

Omar added that this presented a real opportunity for women to share their stories in a country that often doubts them:

"Stigma around sexual violence is such a big issue, especially in India where women are frequently accused of lying, and now you get to see a young woman tell her story for herself, but with all of her emotions.”

This video is a chilling example of the larger sexual assault crisis in India. India's National Crime Records Bureau reported a nearly 900 percent increase in registered rape case over the course of four decades, according to a 2013 article in The Guardian. Murder reports, meanwhile, only increased by 250 percent over the course of 60 years, The Guardian reported.

In 2012, the country's sexual assault problem gained worldwide attention when a 23-year-old woman was gang raped on a moving bus in New Delhi and died from her injuries a few weeks after the assault. Protests across New Delhi followed the highly publicized incident.

“This is an expression of our horror and anger and discontent at how things are,” Komal, a woman who only asked to go by her first name, told The New York Times of the protests. “The government has to take responsibility.”

Watch the full video by the Hindustan Times below:

[H/T Jezebel]