School and college students are holding silent marches, lighting candles and even discussing safety steps, on their return to classes after the Christmas holidays, in an unprecedented expression of hurt over the Delhi gang-rape incident.
“This year, when we returned to school it has not been the same. We are all extremely disturbed by what happened to the girl,” said Shivani Pathak, a class XI student. “Within a few days, similar incidents have occurred in different parts of the country. This shows that criminals are actually encouraged that the government is not taking severe action against such crimes.”
Pathak studies at Billabong High International School in Bhoomi Park, Malad, where she joined other students in a silent march and lit candles in homage to the Delhi girl. They also took a pledge to fight for the safety of women and they will submit a memorandum expressing their sentiment to the government soon.
“We do not want this issue to fizzle out. We had raised our voice against eve teasing through the ‘Chuppi Todo’ campaign that resulted in the bill against eve teasing. Children inspired that campaign as well and we want to channelise their energies so they don’t succumb to negativity, but that they see there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kusum Kanwar, principal of Billabong.
At Podar International, in Santacruz, students observed two-minutes silence on the first day at school in the new year. “I was surprised to see that the students feel so strongly about this cause,” said Vandana Lulla, Podar’s director principal.
During a discussion, one of the students pointed out that the government should fit sensors in public vehicles that could be triggered to intimate the police in case of emergency. (This system is followed in Dubai.) “It was good to see that children are seriously thinking about such issues,’’ the principal said.
Students at Gundecha Academy in Kandivli conducted a group discussion that underlined the need for tougher laws to prevent harassment of women.
“Everyday, countless women become victims of rape and molestation, but not all these incidents are reported. This one incident of the Delhi girl has drawn the nation’s attention, providing an opportunity to take a relook at this issue and what can be done for the safety of women. It’s our resolution to discuss such issues with students,” said Seema Buch, principal of Gundecha Academy.