July 18, 2019 National News

The government has recently introduced a self defence training programme for girls in government schools under Samagra Shiksha scheme. Smriti Mishra finds out if we need to aggressively introduce it in all the schools till class XII

Most important initiative

Any step that is being taken to increase the security of the nation and its citizens is a welcome one. Self-defence is an extremely important aspect considering the increasing crime rate in the country. Eve teasing, chain snatching, attack on modesty are some of the heinous crimes taking place regularly. Girls should be armed with the techniques to ward off these evil perpetrators of crime. Such programmes should be made mandatory in schools and colleges, leaving no excuse for the girls or their parents to avoid the training. The success of these programmes solely depends on the active participation of people.

Grievance redressal

For the past one decade, there has been a number of initiatives taken under schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Education (NPEGL) to train girls in self-defence. However, these efforts do not resolve the issue completely as they fail to acknowledge the need for working at both ends – preventive and redressal mechanisms. The state must also work to change the attitude of the boys towards the girls along with measures such as mandating the constitution of grievance redressal mechanisms in schools. The proposed National Educational Policy (draft) emphasises on zero tolerance towards violation of child rights. The crux lies in effective implementation.

Need for continuity

In order to successfully implement a programme, consistency and continuity need to be maintained. While self-defence is an important tool to empower girls, various other measures need to be taken in terms of police patrolling, access to security and emergency numbers at all times, setting up infrastructure for proper training and grievance redressal to resolve the conflicting situations faced by girls. These steps should come together as a comprehensive policy rather than implementing one step at a time, to address the overall issue of safety.

Feedback mechanism is key
The self-defence programme initiated by the government is an important step towards ensuring the safety of girls within the country. However, one of the key problems with these policies is the lack of implementation at the ground level. It is imperative to keep a check on the execution of the policies through a feedback mechanism involving regular visits to schools and student redressal by state authorities. Literacy is an important factor when it comes to controlling the crime rate. Coupled with this, enhancing the security system, raising awareness and imparting knowledge on the issue of girls’ safety will help in the long-run.

This article was published in the Times of India on July 15, 2019.

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