The Dark Campaign that will launch internationally in India, Australia and New Zealand hopes to create awareness about sexual assault and rape
Sexual assault or rape is as wrong as it gets. By raising awareness and education, as well as bringing perpetrators to justice, we can all hope to eventually effectuate the goal of eliminating sexual assault and rape as a threat to women, men and children. But as long as sexual predators continue to populate our world, it will always be a subject of increased public scrutiny. Our attention will always be drawn to those being sexually harassed, but sadly, only a small few receive justice.
With most communities being largely silent on this issue, Shamshir, as a group of individuals has taken the initiative to raise public awareness about sexual assault and harassment in what they call ‘The Dark Campaign’. The group’s visions for ‘The Dark Campaign’ include educating young people about consent and healthy relationships.
Children are made to live in fear of incidents of sexual abuse and assault. With young ones, it is fairly reasonable to feel at risk because they are considered vulnerable and unprotected. Overall crime has increased in recent years, and reports of abuse and sexual assault are on the rise. Victims who have been brutalised are more likely to report the assault than the ones who don’t show outward physical signs of the attack. The majority of the cases of abuse—particularly acquaintance sexual assault—still go unidentified and unreported.
To understand sexual assault, it’s important to look at those who commit this crime. One thing universally common to perpetrators is that they use it as power and a way to have control. Rape is very rarely about sex. Getting at the real motive of rapists is difficult since rapists typically do not admit their crimes. Moreover, most perpetrators are never caught, and therefore, conviction rates for those apprehended are notoriously low. Every time we feel things cannot get any worse, there is news of another brutal incident. While we get angry, join protests, and demand that the accused be hanged to effectively fight this age-old evil, we need to spend more time understanding it so we can fight the cause.
Shamshir’s—The Dark Campaign is supported by a number of Indian Australian organisations, groups and businesses that understand sexual abuse can happen to children of any race, group, religion or culture. There is no foolproof way to protect children from sexual abuse, but there are steps we can take to reduce this risk. If something happens to a child, remember that the perpetrator is to blame—not the child. The Dark Campaign aims to identify the causes and put a halt on shunning victims that make an accusation of sexual assault, while their perpetrators are being publicly excused to breed assault culture.
The Dark Campaign’s ‘launch advocates’ include Shamsheer Rana Tandon (India); Pankhuri Sarin, Prab Jot, and Mudra Shah for Adelaide; Dr Sonia Singh, Nonia Dayal, and Harry Chhina for Melbourne; Lucky Singh, Shilpa Kapl, and Naini Singh (Sydney); and Gurpreet Sidhu for New Zealand. Media partners are The Indian Sun and Haanji Radio.
The Dark Campaign, launched internationally from the month of April, will travel from Adelaide to India, then New Zealand, Melbourne and Sydney. We request the leading voices from public life to support this cause.
Speaking to your child about sexual assault
It can be stressful to plan a big safety talk about sexual assault with your child. Conversations about sexual assault can be a part of the safety conversations you’re already having in everyday life, like knowing when to speak up, how to take care of friends, and listening to your gut. The key is to start these conversations when your kids are young, and have these conversations often. Teach young children the language they need to talk about their bodies and information about boundaries to help them understand what is allowed and what is inappropriate. These lessons help them know when something isn’t right and give them the power to speak up. Sharing your own experiences can make these conversations relevant and feel more real to teens. If you don’t have an experience you feel comfortable sharing, you can tell a story about someone you know.
Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child. Young children often fear getting in trouble or upsetting their parents by asking questions or talking about their experiences. When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven’t started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.
The writer is one of the founders of The Dark Campaign as well as a launch advocate for Adelaide