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NGO report: 4 out of 10 girls say journey to school unsafe

During the survey, conducted across six states, 509 adolescent girls were interviewed

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2018 23:40 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Centre,Save the Children
A girl narrates her experience at the launch of report By Save the Children at Nariman Point on Tuesday. (HT photo )

Though the Centre amended Criminal Law Ordinance, 2018, allowing death sentence for child rapists, public safety is still a concern for girls.

A study by non-profit group Save the Children, which throws light on ‘perceptions of girls safety in public, revealed 38% girls perceived that travel to school, local market or tuitions could be unsafe, while 35% said they feel insecure while travelling in public transport.

During the survey, conducted across six states, 509 adolescent girls, 185 adolescent boys, 135 parents and 42 young women in rural and urban areas of Maharashtra were interviewed.

Study states the presence of gangs and loafers in public spaces was the main cause of concern, with 46% of girls listing this as their primary concern. Another concern expressed by the girls, who were interviewed, was poor lighting in public places, wherein 39% of girls feared to visit such places.

“All children have a right to feel safe and protected in public spaces. We have to ensure that this right is not violated and they can roam about feeling safe and sound,” said Sanjay Sharma, State Head, Save the Children in Maharashtra.

Suggesting measures required to make the places safe for young girls, Sharma said all stakeholders need to come together to strengthen existing child protect systems and laws.

The data goes on to add that 52% of girls are worried of lewd comments in unsafe public places. Saleha Khan, a resident of Govandi, said her sister was asked to drop out of school when she was in ninth grade because her parents worried about safety in the society.

“In our community, we are expected to go to toilets accompanied by parents because there are loafers loitering around there. One of the reason for early marriages within our community is because parents fear that we will be eve-teased on our way to college,” said Khan.

Suggesting the measures that could help bring down the figures, Dr Sonali Mukherjee, General Manager-Research, Save the Children, said that apart from having CCTV cameras in public places, curriculum in school needs to made gender sensitive and more women police personnel need to be deployed.

“Women facing harassment often complain they do not find police around to register their complaint. In that case, if there are women officers around, these girls won’t feel hesitant,” she added.

Speaking at the report launch, Women and Child Welfare minister Pankaja Munde, said, “The rate of conviction has gone up, and people are reporting more cases of harassment faced by them, which is a welcome change. Not like there wasn’t harassment earlier, but now because incidents are being reported, the numbers have gone up,” Munde said.

First Published: May 29, 2018 23:40 IST