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Snapchat Filters Are Helping Indian Sexual Assault Victims Tell Their Stories

Mobile editor of the Hindustan Times, Yusuf Omar, wanted to provide the many victims of rape and sexual assault with a means of sharing their moving stories with the world. But how do you get people to share these deeply personal stories without revealing their identities?

Well, Omar came up with what is, perhaps, the perfect 21st century solution. While covering India's first ever Climb Against Sexual Abuse, he let survivors of sexual assault and rape tell their stories with Snapchat filters, such as the fire breathing dragon filter, covering their faces in order to ensure them complete anonymity.

In a statement made to Journalism.co.uk, Omar explained that he sees using Snapchat filters as an even more effective journalistic tactic than the more classic practice of blurring out the interviewee's face post-interview.

He elaborated that recording with the Snapchat masks gave the victims a "sense of legitimacy and security" that he definitely was not going to be able to use their faces, while having him promise to blur out their faces post-interview still left a lot of trust in his hands.

This sense of "legitimacy and security" left them feeling "empowered and in control of the narrative" as they had the power to cover their own faces the way they wanted and, thus, tell their stories freely without any fear of being identified.

Omar managed to cover the entire event, involving 50 young people climbing India's Chamundi Hills in an attempt to break stigma surrounding sexual violence, using nothing more than an iPhone 6 and a selfie stick.

He would leave interviewees alone with the phone and the selfie stick and allow them to tell their stories in complete privacy. As a result, the people didn't feel like they were doing this awkward interview. They just felt like they were looking at themselves in a phone, recalling their own experiences.

Omar explains, "there was something so personal and sincere about that.”

Watch the amazing video for yourself below:

Citations: See How Sexual Abuse Survivors Are Using Snapchat To Share Their Stories (Cosmopolitan), Hindustan Times uses Snapchat filters to protect sexual assault survivors (Journalism.co.uk)