STOP RAPE

A rampant issue that we all are mute spectators to on a daily basis is the one of rape and violent sexual abuse.

It has reached such a magnitude that we seem to take it in our stride.

The outrage that rocked the country after the ‘Nirbhaya Case’ has died down into an uncomfortable lethargy with a few spurts of community response when there is a particularly atrocious incident like the Kathua case for example and in a few days we are back to our usual commonplace routines.

The situation has now begun to cripple the lives of women and children on a daily basis, we are afraid to travel out as we used to, afraid to send children to school, to send them on the school bus, we need to think twice before we go out at night in some places, worry about travelling in certain modes of transport. The number of children that are recipients of this sort of horrible abuse is unthinkable. Children, both girls and boys targeted as innocent victims of some vile creature’s lust, their lives scarred forever or snuffed out for fear of being discovered by the criminals responsible for the heinous crimes committed against these helpless ones. Cities that we thought were safe seem to harbour the worst sort of lecherous wretches on the planet. What do we as a ‘People against Violence’ do in the face of this reality?

Our country is fast becoming or has become the most unsafe place for women and how do we step in to stop this tide from riding over us and everyone else in its path? How long before we recognize that our boys face so much abuse and remain silent for they have no one to turn to; to share their fears and pain, for society expects them to always be strong and brave and tells them that things like this happen only to wimps.

Can we start making a difference by sharing our concerns among our peers, our areas of influence, with our children – teaching to respect each other, about their right to safety and their need to speak up and how to recognize unsafe touch. Can we help them build a better understanding and make sure they in turn influence others to stop the perpetration of this barbarous outrage?

Let’s use whatever means we can to spread the word – Let’s break the cycle.

Stop Rape_FB

STOP RAPE

How do we help the victims? How do we build back self confidence and help them cope with the back lash?

  • Can we begin by taking the first major step in our thinking – stop finding fault with them of all the things they could have or shouldn’t have done –
  • Can we please stop victimizing the victim? The trauma they go through is way beyond anything any of us could ever imagine and if we can just be there for them it goes a long way.
  • Some of them, especially young men and boys go through a worse situation as they deal with so much self victimization and shame without being able to share their pain with anyone.
  • If we can just go the extra mile, find safe spaces for them to share what they go through, ensure that they can access professional counselling and other support services, assure them that they are not at fault for someone else’s wretched perverted behaviour and be the ones that don’t stand in judgment over them, we can make a difference.

There are many things that each one of us can do in our own sphere of influence, but when we work together we create a powerful synergy that can overcome this monster of nightmarish proportions that is threatening to destroy the very foundations of our society. Let’s be those people who will stand up to make a difference!

by Mrs. Vinodhini Moses
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The How, Why & What of Indian Child Marriages

We know the legal age limits for men and women in India, but I’m sure, most of us have not questioned it. Nor have we asked why is the legal limit very very serious. Did you know, the legal limit used to be 18 and 14 for boys and girls respectively? Did you also know that India ranks 10th in the world for it’s child marriages? Shocking isn’t it? Here’s more information at your fingertips.

ORIGIN STORIES : 

There is controversy over how child marriages occurred, some blame a certain religion, others blamed marauding camps attacking girls that for their security they were married off. However, there are signs that before the 19th century, there was child marriage world over. Basically, there is no conclusive reasoning for why it’s now important for Hindus or Muslims to marry their children before the consent age.

THE STATISTICS OF IT ALL : 

Nearly 12 million children (boys and girls) below the age of 10 were married according to a survey in 2016. More so in the rural areas than in the urban areas is what the stats seem to showcase.

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THE LAWS :

The 1929 child marriage law, firmly defined what constituted as a child and placed the legal age limits as 18 for girls and 21 for boys. There were consequences listed as well within this law, however, it proved tedious to follow through.

The 2006 child marriage law, was more stringent in terms of the name, the options for voiding a child marriage and more stringent consequences were listed. It also allowed for a girl to nullify the marriage and to be provided for monetarily till she was of legal age or she was married.

While these laws applied to the entire nation at large, the Muslim clergy spoke against this invasion into their personal law, as marriage was a religious event, not something that the law should be interfering with. There are many debates centring over this topic, and while both sides have a point, the main issue is about protecting a child’s innocence than a personal insult against a religion.

REASONS FOR A CHILD MARRIAGE :

Whatever the origin story, whatever the stats or the laws, it’s still disconcerting that child marriage is a thing. To most of us in the urban and privileged background, we cannot understand why child marriage occurs in the first place.

RELIGION, is one of the primary reasons for child marriages. Tradition and religious rights dictates a lot of our lives and it follows through with this as well. However, it does go a little more deeper, with the issue of DOWRY for a girl child. The later a girl takes to get married, the more dowry is required by the groom’s family – even though dowry is a serious offence. POVERTY, is another reason for child marriages as this ensures monetary gain through a successful alliance – a throwback to the old days of alliances formed between families. It also helps cut out extra EXPENSES such as daily amenities and education for the child.

CONSEQUENCES OF A CHILD MARRAIGE:

Yes, it is true there are bound to be consequences to violating a law, whether it is tradition, religion or poverty at play. Children need a certain maturity to make decisions, especially with something important as the institution of marriage.

Marriage, even with guardians dictating the way they live, there are issues pertaining to HEALTH of both children. They need to know about sex – safe sex to be exact. Most child marriages also occur where there is a high prevalence of illiteracy, so EDUCATION pertaining to anything relating to hygiene, good nutrition and sex education will be limited or sparse.

MORTALITY RATES is higher in these circumstances, because they don’t know how to take care of themselves when they are pregnant, nor do they know how to care for their babies nutrition, hygiene, etc. With no proper guidance, they also are unable to decide about FAMILY PLANNING and thus have a high prevalence of unexpected pregnancies, with unfortunately a few leading to PREGNANCY TERMINATIONS, such as miscarriages, stillbirths, etc.

Another surprising consequence of child marriage is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Younger girls are more open to domestic and sexual abuse from their husbands than girls at 18 years and older.

IS THIS REALLY A MAJOR PROBLEM ?

Yes, child marriages are a problem, not just for the VICTIMS in a child marriage, but also society and the country at large. If the children are allowed their right to education, there are a vast variety of benefits.

Girls once educated are able to take care of the HYGIENE and NUTRITION of the family. Educated girls are also able to family plan and thus in effect this brings down the POPULATION at large. Bringing the population down, also helps with each nuclear family having sufficient funds for their children. Having more than one child can be a CHOICE and not something unwanted that stresses the FAMILY FINANCES.

Educated girls also bring down the MORTALITY RATES of both pregnant girls and infants.  And at this point, though it might be a big ask, DOMESTIC ABUSE can be curtailed with older women knowing their rights and how to get help from it.

This all boils down to one main thing, EDUCATING children and letting them enjoy their childhood without forcing them to grow up unnecessarily.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

You can join the YWCA of India in taking part in the advocacy issue of fighting against child marriage among other things. Forming think tanks to protect the rights of other children and helping them get their basic rights. Educating those around you to raise awareness about this issue.

 

National Immunisation Day 2017

Lately social activism has taken on a hard edge to it. There is a sense of despondency that whatever is said will not be heard. The days do look dark ahead of us, however, we need to take our wins along with us as well.

National Immunisation Day 2017, the day that marks the start of the Polio drive in India in accordance with the World Health Organisation [WHO] directive. WHO wanted to eradicate the World of Polio by the year 2000 and India met that deadline with aplomb.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).

WHO had two Millennium Development Goals: halving the number of people who suffer from hunger (for which a key indicator is the prevalence of underweight children) and reducing the mortality rate of children under five years of age by two-thirds. With this in mind they set up building campaigns around the world to start the polio drive by immunising children under the age of 5. India successfully participated in this initiative.

It started in Delhi, with polio drops being given door to door. And the following season the Indian Government had taken up this crusade. Door to door campaigns, information to the public was issued at regular intervals, polio schedules were drawn up to ensure that children below 5 got their doses regularly.

Things were on track till one case popped up in Howrah, West Bengal in 2011. From then on, The Indian Government has been following the directive set by WHO to keep India polio free. So, here’s a feather in our caps for following through for 5 years through. There is some good news around, development is happening, we need to remind ourselves of it more often is all.