Sexual Violence, Victim Blaming, and Gaps in Healthcare in India

March 6, 2018 @ 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
TH Chan School of Public Health, Kresge Building, Room G2
651 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115

India: Sexual Violence, Victim Blaming, and Gaps in HealthCare

Public protests in India after the December 2012 fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a student in Delhi, spurred important legal and other reforms. This has been accompanied by numerous public campaigns, including on social media, most of them led by Indian women and civil society challenging patriarchal norms and calling for change. The MeToo movement found thousands of voices echoing similar stories in India. While many more girls and women have been willing to speak out and report sexual violence in India, defying stigma to break the cultural of silence, promised changes are still falling far short of being realized. A key reform was the 2014 guidelines for medical care for survivors of sexual violence issued by the Indian government to standardize healthcare professionals’ examination and treatment of sexual assault survivors. The guidelines integrate processes geared to respect women’s and children’s rights to privacy, dignity, creating a non-threatening environment, and informed consent. However, a new Human Rights Watch report “Everyone Blames Me,” authored by Jayshree Bajoria, found that there are serious gaps in implementing the guidelines, and the healthcare system has largely failed when it comes to providing therapeutic care and counseling to survivors. Medical professionals still conduct degrading “two-finger” tests to make characterizations about whether the victim was “habituated to sex.” The talk will focus on such persistent gaps in enforcing the laws and relevant policies, and discuss some measures to ensure that the healthcare system treats the victims and their families with sensitivity, dignity, and without discrimination.

Jayshree Bajoria is a senior research consultant for Human Rights Watch. She has worked on several issues in India including right to education, freedom of expression and assembly, discrimination against marginalized communities, police abuse, and access to justice.

Bajoria previously worked as a writer and deputy editor at, the website of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Her work at CFR won an Emmy Award in 2011 in the category New Approaches to News and Documentary Programming, and two Overseas Press Club awards. She was a 2014 fellow at Asia Society’s India-Pakistan Regional Young Leaders forum. Bajoria has also worked as a reporter for BBC, Star News television, and the Indian Express newspaper in Mumbai, India. She has a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University in New York.