This Indian Newspaper Is Using Snapchat Filters To Protect Sexual Assault Survivors

“Now you get to see a young woman tell her story for herself, but with all of her emotions.”

Hindustan Times's coverage of the Climb Against Sexual Abuse in Mysore, India utilized Snapchat's face-mapping filters to allow survivors of sexual abuse to tell their stories anonymously.

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Yusuf Omar, mobile editor at Hindustan Times, told Journalism.co.uk how using the popular app in this way gave subjects a new degree of autonomy. “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 recorded interviews with some of the Climb's 50 participants using an iPhone 6 and a selfie stick, and allowed the subjects to choose the filter that would hide their identity. Rather than be present to guide the interviews, Omar left the subjects alone as they were filmed. “They weren't telling their story to me or a camera," he said, "they were just looking at themselves in a phone and recalling their experiences – and there was something so personal and sincere about that.”

Omar will revisit this method during the Climb Against Sexual Abuse in December, at Mount Kilimanjaro. He hopes the masks will reveal the human stories behind India's sexual assault epidemic. “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.”

This Indian Newspaper Is Using Snapchat Filters To Protect Sexual Assault Survivors