‘Our content is raw, tough, heartbreaking. But that’s the harsh reality’

How A Silent Narrative, a YouTube project that gives voice to survivors of sexual assault, came about

A Silent Narrative provides “a safe space for survivors to voice their experiences of sexual harassment — a space where they can be assured of anonymity and empathy”.

A Silent Narrative started at Flame University (Pune) in October 2018, when we were asked to create content on social media for our course. We wanted to do something that would have a larger impact, that would go beyond the class and the campus and us five — something that would be of help to the wider community.

And so A Silent Narrative was born, out of the understanding that people need a safe space to voice their experiences of sexual harassment — a space where they can be assured of anonymity and empathy.

For the project, we collect stories through anonymous forms and they are then read out on camera by others, after ensuring due consent. The purpose is not simply to create a platform for people who have been living their lives with the burden of their untold story, but also to provide an opportunity for others to know that, unfortunately, such incidents are very much part of our society, that they are happening now. So the project aims to take some of the weight of these experiences off the shoulders of survivors and make their individual stories part of a larger narrative.

The #MeToo movement seems to be one of those turning points in our history, a movement after which our society and its power structures will never be the same. We just wanted to do our part in bringing about that change.

There are so many voices around us that are silenced and stories of sexual assault that go completely unheard. While there are many who called out sexual predators, we realised that there were several more who might never be heard because the survivors were apprehensive to reveal their identities. There is still a lot of stigma attached to conversations around sexual assault, and sometimes the circumstances prevent a person from voicing their stories.

The response that we have received from women in our social circles has been overwhelming. Several people have reached out to us wanting to volunteer in the project and do something similar in their city and for their circle as well.

Some of our viewers commented that the content of our videos is too heavy. We understand that, but this is the nature of our topic. Sexual assault has been taken lightly for too long; it’s time for us to step up and initiate the change we want to see in the world.

Our content is raw, tough to watch, heartbreaking. But we need to face this harsh reality to be able to move past it. We will keep making more videos to put these stories out there because that’s the least we can do to keep the conversation going. Change is always young, and we have the constant responsibility to push the conversation further.

— Afrah Umapathy, Advait Makhija, Dharika Athray, Mirai Kandathil and Enasha Thakker are students at Flame University, Pune. They spoke to Sushmita K M.

— Stories can be submitted to A Silent Narrative at https://bit.ly/2SwNdVo

This is one in a series of articles that NewsTracker published from 25 November to 10 December as part of the #16Days activism, aligned with the UN’s International Day for Ending Violence Against Women. This piece appeared on Day 16.