New campaign advocates safety of school girls while commuting

New Delhi: As part of its initiative to prevent sexual violence against women, Breakthrough, a women’s rights organisation recently launched an online campaign #MakeitSafer to create awareness about young girls being harassed on their way to school and back.

According to a study conducted by the organisation across six Indian states, almost 50 per cent school girls have faced sexual harassment during their travel between schools and homes.

Besides the trauma that follows the violence, the study also points out that often families and the society at large choose to turn a blind eye to the victims.

“Sexual harassment has severe ramifications on a girl’s life that reflect in communities in the forms of school dropouts, early marriage and also early motherhood,” says Sonali Khan, Country Director and Vice-President, Breakthrough.

The campaign, which has already garnered support from critically acclaimed actress Kalki Koechlin, advocates the provision of a safer ecosystem for school going girls by inviting public participation.

“The campaign aims at strengthening the resources required for on-ground action and community mobilisation. It seeks to build upon sensitisation of masses while addressing the challenge of lack of safeguards and sanctions,” says Khan.

According to the study, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana are among the states that have recorded maximum occurence of the crime.

As a preventive measure, the organisation has installed video vans in the affected areas to train the youth, law enforcement agencies, auto drivers as well as students in schools.

“Via the video vans, we have been able to reach out to more than 150,000 people including 24,000 students and sensitise the masses about the need for safety of girl children in public spaces,” says Khan.