Creating safe environment for girls

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Through her innovation, teacher Vibha Soni is encouraging girls to share their problems by writing and putting them into a drop box

Stray incidents of eve teasing in her school and the girl students’ hesitation and fear in disclosing it to their parents or teachers, led Vibha Soni to create a zero investment solution for a safe and secure environment for girls.

Working as a teacher in Government Middle School in Masturi block of Bilaspur district, Soni took a cue from the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012, which was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and introduced the idea of POCSO Act Box in her school.

As per this small innovation, the children who are subjected to any kind of eve teasing or sexual harassment in school or outside can write their problem on paper and put it in the POCSO Act Box, which is made of bare minimum material including a cardboard and paper.

The complaint is then addressed by the school authorities and strict action is initiated against the culprit.

“In our society, it is generally seen that girls are not encouraged to report such incidents and are told to stop going to school or college if they face any kind of eve teasing or sexual harassment. My objective was to make the children aware about the issue and bring such cases out in the open so that they can be dealt properly,” she said.

Soni was able to share the idea with the trainers of the Sri Aurobindo Society’s Zero Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI) program during teachers’ orientation about implementing small and innovative ideas to improve the quality of education in their schools.

“I never thought that such a small idea can make a big impact and could be considered as worth sharing under the ZIIEI program”, Vibha said

Soni said that the implementation of the idea starts from the prayer assembly in the school where students are told about the POCSO Act and the importance of sharing such kind of incidents with parents and teachers. Soni added that this initiative in her school has led to fear among the bad elements in the school or outside, decrease in the absenteeism of girls in the school and increase in their self confidence following such incidents.

“I keep on counseling the girls in the school to talk about any such incident and share it in the box and thing have changed a lot. Girls are coming out and sharing their problems. They also understand that any incident of sexual harassment or eve teasing is not their fault”, Vibha said