CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault.
Survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking in India are using Snapchat filters to speak out and share their stories.
The groundbreaking new use for this primarily selfie-focused app was pioneered by the Hindustan Times‘ mobile editor Yusuf Omar.
While covering India’s first Climb Against Sexual Abuse – during which 50 young people climbed the Chamundi Hills in a bid to undo the stigma around sexual violence – he interviewed participating sexual assault survivors using Snapchat, as the app’s filters allowed rape survivors to speak openly and honestly without the need to blur or silhouette their face.
“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,” Omar told Journalism.co.uk.
“Using the inside camera, they felt like they were looking in a mirror. They weren’t telling their story to me or a camera, they were just looking at themselves in a phone and recalling their experiences – and there was something so personal and sincere about that.”
Stigma in India is a huge problem for sexual assault survivors, who Omar says are often accused of lying. And Poonam Thimmaiah, one of the co-founders of Climb Against Sexual Abuse, says that often the perpetrators are the victim’s brother, cousin, uncle or father, making speaking out even more difficult.
You can watch the story below.
To speak to someone about sexual assault, or for 24/7 counselling, contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.