‘Prepare children to perceive the threat’
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‘Prepare children to perceive the threat’

HT Forum: Mothers feel right parenting and open dialogue at home can prepare children to fight it back in times of need. They also advocate strong implementation of laws to check crimes against women.

lucknow Updated: Apr 20, 2018 17:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Children safety,Women safety,Uttar Pradesh
Participants at HT Forum exchanged suggestions to create a better and safer environment for girls.(HT Photo)

With reports of crime against women and even children hogging newspaper headlines practically every day, mothers in the city are worried about the safety of their daughters. They feel right parenting and allowing an open dialogue at home can prepare children to perceive the threat and also to fight it back in times of need.

During a forum at Hindustan Times office on Thursday, mothers gave a number of suggestions to help create a better and safer environment for their daughters.

“ Mothers have a major role to play as compared to fathers. It’s OK that school will teach good and bad touch and other things to the children but at the same time mothers should also be vigilant about the surroundings of daughters. They should also keep track of children while they are on their way to school as this is the time when they are surrounded by strangers and are more vulnerable.” Shalie Malik , assistant professor

Shalie Malik, assistant professor in Lucknow university and mother of an eight-year -ld said, “As a working mother, it is my duty to spare a good amount of time for my daughter. I may do wonders as a professional but I would fail if I don’t do justice to my duties as a mother.”

Emphasising on sparing time for children, Malik suggested that parents should build such a bond of trust with their children so that the children don’t hesitate in sharing their problems with them.

Simran Sahni, an entrepreneur and mother of teenage children, emphasised on open discussions. She said, “We don’t just need to limit our teachings and discussions to children. Such issues need to be discussed openly in the family and with friends as well if we wish to bring about a change.”

Talking about the debate of what to wear and what not to wear, Simran said, “We need to teach our children and also understand what to do where. We also need to teach them that life is not a bed of roses and they should be prepared to face the harsh realities .”

She also focused on teaching children to be courageous.

“We need to be expressive. Sex should no longer be a white elephant in the room. We need to be more open to the children and should make them aware of the world. Classes on good and bad touch and sex education should also be made mandatory in government schools. Besides, there is need to strengthen the laws.”-Charmaine Beecham, director St.Teresa’s schools, colleges

Ministhy S, a bureaucrat and mother of two daughters, suggested changes in the system. She said, “There should be continuous training programmes at all levels to build sensitivity in officials. During promotions, the sensitivity of the officials should also be taken into consideration. Only this can propel them to work for the weakest of the weak.”

She said, “We should not hesitate to tell our boys that if they watch porn or think dirty about other girls, there may be someone thinking in a similar way about their sister. That’s how sensitisation should begin from home.”

The panellists lamented about the negative role of mothers in several cases of sexual abuse. A number of cases have highlighted that when the girl complained of sexual abuse by a near and dear one in the initial stage, they were suppressed by their mothers.

Aashrita Dass, principal of La Martiniere Girls’ College and mother of a daughter emphasised on the need to make women financially independent. “Only if the mothers are financially independent can they take a bold step. An independent women would not be afraid to stand by her girl and fight for her rights.”

The panellists also emphasised on strong implementation of laws in the country to check crimes against women. Amrita Chakraborty, lawyer and activist said, “Law cannot prevent crimes. It is only remedial, compensative and punitive machinery. We have to break the taboo of victim shaming and silencing. Speedy, affordable and child -friendly redressal system and exemplary punishments would definitely bring about some positive changes. Unless and until financial, moral and educational prosperity reaches every strata of our society we won’t be able to protect our children from crimes and injustices.”

Charmine Beecham emphasised on the effective implementation of the POCSO Act that is meant to check sexual crimes against minors.

Fatima Rizvi, faculty, department of English and Modern European Languages, Lucknow University, focussed on giving lessons of morality to people in power. She said, “There have been so many cases where people in power try to protect the misdeeds of their children. This needs to be checked.”

Anshu Bhatnagar, a social worker, suggested that women judges be appointed and only fast track courts should be allowed to deal with cases of crimes against women.

Aarti Kumar, who works for mother and infant health, suggested, “We teach our girls modesty. We need to teach them courage.”


Ensure time-bound judgements

Strengthen victim and witness protection schemes. Also make victim compensation scheme stronger. Ensuring time-bound judgements in cases of sexual abuse can also help

Use Aadhar to debar offender from all govt facilities

Track and debar offender from all government facilities in cases of sexual abuse. The Aadhar card can be used to translate this decision into practice, as done in some countries with the help of UID. Even if the offender goes for a job the status ‘child sexual abuser’ pops up with the employer

Speed up trial

Quick trial of cases in time-bound manner can build confidence among victims to speak up and lodge complaint

Offer support to victims

Empower the victims and encourage them. Offer legal and financial support to victims, particularly if they are poor. This shall empower them to fight until justice is delivered

Have counsellors at court for child victims

Counsellors at court for the child victim will also help build confidence. Hearing should be in an environment so that victims do not feel they are offenders. Ensure proper distance between victim and offenders. Some countries have victim protection and witness protection schemes

Give harsh punishments as deterrents

People should know that if you rape you get the worst penalty. The system of punishment should be such that quick decision and harsh punishments make people abstain from committing heinous crimes

Ostracise offenders

The society should also ostracize offenders and make children aware about such crimes. Not just girls but also the boys be asked about their late arrival at home. Need to create family values with kindness, gender equality and education. Parents should be open about problems. Law alone cannot solve the issue as the breeding ground is in the society.

“Be more courageous and more vocal about crime against women. I think men are taking advantage of the situation as women often hide the crime and remain quiet . It’s time to be courageous and create an environment in which our children do not fear in sharing things with the parents. While working I have came across many cases in rural pockets where the mothers often prefer not to raise an alarm. I think the time has come when we should be more courageous and vocal.”-Aarti Kumar, activist mother and child health

Make girls plucky

Need to raise girls to be courageous to speak up and share and encourage values and courage among children. Half of the problem will be solved if a woman stands for another woman

SMS system in govt schools

Use of technology has to come handy within society. Schools’ SMS system about attendance, which is a fruitful tool to register activities of students, should be used simultaneously at private and government schools. Government can ensure such service sends information to the parents without discrimination.

Counsellors in schools

Counsellor be appointed in schools who at times can explain law, habit and the consequences of wrong doings in such a manner that children are groomed to be good citizens. At school level, activities that help develop students as compassionate citizen be carried out not as formality under subjects such as SUPW or moral science. They should be modulated to benefit the future generation

Educate the masses

Government should have more ambassadors to educate the masses. Gender sensitivity, good touch, bad touch etc should also be taught

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 17:49 IST