Alim Kheraj
July 12, 2016 5:40 am
Hindustan Times

We all love a good Snapchat filter, whether it be the puppy filter, the one that makes your face go all squishy and weird, or the magic re-touching of the floral crown.

Literally, we’d be snapping all day long if we could, and we’re definitely guilty of letting our Snapchat stories get way too long. We’re also completely guilty of refreshing to see people exactly what people like Michelle Obama are up to, and we totally love how the medium has opened up discussions around relationships, as this study showed.

However, now people are using Snapchat for even greater reasons: talking about sexual assault.

CLIMB against sexual abuse is a global non-profit organisation that aims to breakdown the silence that surrounds sexual abuse by spreading “awareness, undoing the stigma, and challenging societal mindsets” by climbing mountains all over the world.

Recently, the charity recently brought their climbing campaign to the Chamundi Hills in Mysuru, India, to talk to rape survivors and help them tell their stories.

To raise awareness, journalist and self-proclaimed Snapchat storyteller, Yusuf Omar, made a film for the Hindustan Times detailing the march, while raising important questions about the seeming sexual abuse crisis women in India are currently facing.

According to figures compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau, over 24,923 rapes or sexual molestations occurred in India in 2013.  Meanwhile, the Times of India reported that in 2015 over 800 cases of sexual abuse were reported in just the first two months of the year. It’s suggested that out of all the reported cases 98% were committed by someone the victim knew.

In the documentary, which was shared on Facebook in June this year, Poonam Thimmaiah, co-founder of CLIMB, claims that a woman is raped in India every 22 minutes.

In order to let these women speak freely without persecution from their friends and family, filmmaker Yusuf Omar interviewed survivors using Snapchat filters thereby allowing those women to remain anonymous, while also raising awareness of their stories with the aim to help others come forward.

Speaking to Journalism.co.ukOmar said, “I thought there must be a more accessible way to disguise someone’s face using new technology, and Snapchat was just that.”

Letting the interviewees speak for themselves into the phone’s front-facing camera, Omar says that it was like “looking into a mirror.”

“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’,” he said, “so they felt empowered and in control of the narrative.”

Continuing, he added, “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.”

We really think this is a totally amazing, creative, and essential way to raise awareness of sexual abuse survivors, and something we 100% support.

Watch Yusuf’s film Climb Against Sexual Abuse below.

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For more information on CLIMB, visit their website www.climbagainstsexualabuse.com.

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