News - May 8, 2015

Blog: Survivors or victims of the Nepal eathquake?

Let us not label those who experienced the earthquake in Nepal as victims, but rather as survivors, argues our Nepalese blogger Mary Shrestha.

Do words matter?  

'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet', wrote Shakespeare in the tale of Romeo and Juliet. But will the smell and beauty of a rose be justified if we call it by any other name? That's the question.

Similarly, the words “victims” and “survivors” can be used as synonyms in certain situations. But would it matter for the person we are talking about? I wonder who is actually a victim and who is a survivor? Definitions suggest that a victim is the one who is harmed or killed due to a circumstance. Both words have a clear distinction with regards to the consequences after the circumstances. If people are alive (and cope with the situation), we call them survivors. But in practice do we call them survivors? I don’t think so. We automatically label them as victims.

One case I would like to point out is during the earthquake in Nepal. The world media branded the people as victims and are still using the same name. The word "victim" certainly provided more positive impact for increasing the relief supports through the lens of pitifulness. But aren’t they the survivors? They survived the catastrophe and the physical and mental trauma caused by it.

In this context, I would like to outline the same mistake I made in my Master’s thesis. I had planned to enquire about the women who are victims of partner violence. After interviewing some of them I realised my mistake. They are not victims but survivors, although they are in mental and physical pain.

So, why not salute these living legends and brand them as the survivors, rather than victims? This will definitely help them morally and give them power to rise from the miserable situations.