A group of men used to pass lewd comments on a girl when she went to school. The Class 9 student didn’t know how to handle her harassers.
One day she dropped a note in a box kept in her school. To her surprise, she found that the men disappeared from her way to the school.
Karauli district collector Manoj Sharma ordered placing of such boxes in six government senior secondary schools for girls to encourage them to raise their problems, or offer suggestions to the administration. The collector took the initiative, called Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai (I want to say something), after some schoolgirls walked into his office a month ago to tell him their problems.
“Two girls came to my office a month back with some problem. I redressed it. A few days later, some more girls came in, saying the earlier girls had told them that meeting the DC solves problems,” said Sharma.
Sharma thought about developing a mechanism through which schoolgirls could raise their problems with the authorities in anonymity. “If some girls could walk up to me with their problems, I thought there must be many others who might be frustrated, disturbed, exploited, or harassed. This leads to psychological problems, even depression, because girls cannot vent their feelings. The programme is for them to freely voice their ‘mann ki baat’,” he said.
The boxes, with ‘Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai’ written on them, were put in schools on November 9. In two weeks, the administration received several letters -- some with suggestions, some about gender disparity, and some about problems in their schools.
A Class 10 girl wrote about unclean drinking water in her school. The water cooler was cleaned soon. “It gives the girls a feeling of importance when the issues they raise get resolved promptly,” Sharma said.
“The teenage is the time for complete personality development; women are four times more intelligent than men and six times more courageous, but problems in their young age create obstacles to concentrating on studies, and affect their life. Unable to tell their problems freely to anyone, they keep them to themselves, getting into psychological problems,” he said.
A committee of the sub-divisional officer, deputy superintendent of police and the school principal will redress the problems raised through the initiative.
District education officer (secondary education) Mohammad Shahid Khan said, “The government runs many schemes to encourage girls, but this initiative is special. Girls can write in simple language without mentioning their names, if they so wish, and put the paper in the box.”