Published: 02nd May 2017
That's what SheSays: How Trisha Shetty's website is helping young women understand what the law says about sexual harassment
Trisha Shetty's SheSays, a non-profit organisation, empowers women to take direct action against sexual violence by giving them information about what the law says and where to get real-time help
Hoping to make a considerable impression before you turn 30? Take a leaf out of Trisha Shetty’s book and you could find yourself on the Forbes’ Super Achievers Under 30 list just like her. The 26-year-old founder-CEO of SheSays, a non-profit organisation, was also recognised by the UN’s Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals for her outstanding leadership skills.
So what does SheSays actually do?
It's a Mumbai-based organisation, that provides a platform to educate, rehabilitate and empower women to take direct action against sexual violence. Their website lists the sexual offences recognised under the Indian Penal Code and the guidelines that need to be followed at hospitals and police stations when seeking legal aid and when reporting offences.
By and by, Trisha and her team are increasingly tackling controversial issues — including the much-debated criminalisation of marital rape. “Acknowledging that youth involvement is an important step, my vision is for people to be aware of their rights and for the youth to lead this change. But in the end, I hope that there is no longer a need for companies like SheSays,” says Trisha, who started the organisation in 2015.
Legal Eagle: Trisha Shetty addressing the audience at the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2017
Find psych help using their website
Since March 2016, the website has activated its Redressal Directory feature that can be accessed over Google Maps across various cities in India. This feature includes area-specific information to the closest psychiatrists and psychologists, police stations and government hospitals — vital information that women under duress can access. SheSays has also started providing financial aid to those who have suffered from trauma due to sexual abuse and who would like to seek psychological counsel. On average, they deal with offences under sexual harassment in higher educational institutes, rape under the Indian law and marital rape, states Nishiki Bhavnani, Operations Director, SheSays.
Beyond the internet — in schools, colleges and more
Explaining how the organisation reaches people who don’t have access to the internet, Sudarshan Mohta, Head of Legal Research, SheSays, says, “Understanding wholly that the internet has limited reach to the smartphones of the urban youth, we take cognisable initiatives to reach out to those who are less privileged and uninformed. The team has deconstructed the law of the land and devised a curriculum (Sexual Violence Prevention and Education) which is conducted for students, teachers, and parents by legal professionals.”
SheSays has impacted over 150,000 individuals and counting through the sessions conducted in schools, colleges and other institutions
Taking it from Twitter to the netas
Yet another campaign started by SheSays is #LahukaLagaan that addresses Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, urging the government to make sanitary napkins tax free. They have filed legal representations with several ministries to provide women with easy access to sanitary napkins. “We have filed representations with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Sanitation, Ministry of Finance to name a few, to lift the tax levied on essential commodities like sanitary napkins and tampons. Though we haven’t yet heard from them, a lot of others have come forward to support us,” says Trisha. The hashtag even trended on Twitter, garnering the attention of the Twitterati.