July 3rd, 2017
A Petition Urging The HRD Ministry To Include Gender Sensitisation In School Curriculum
In 2012, thousands of protesters streamed into the heart of the nation’s capital to demand justice for Jyoti Singh who was brutally gang-raped, thrown out of a moving bus, and left to die.
Five years hence, Jyoti got the justice she deserved – the Supreme Court upheld death sentences of four of her murderers.
However, despite the harsh punishment that rape invites, sexual violence against women haven’t stopped. A 20-year old Rohtak woman was brutally raped and mutilated by seven men on 9 May 2017.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, crimes against women in India rose from 41.7% to 53.9% between 2011 and 2015.
In 2015 alone, the data shows that 3,27,394 cases of violence against women were reported, including 34,651 cases of rape, 4,437 cases of attempted rape, 59,277 kidnapping and abductions, 7,634 dowry deaths, and 1,13,403 cases of domestic cruelty, among others.
In 2012, the judge of the Supreme Court of India, who was a part of the bench that upheld the death penalty to Jyoti Singh’s rapists, suggested that gender equality be included in the school curriculum. He said, “In our tradition-bound society, certain attitudinal change and change in the mindset is needed to respect women and to ensure gender justice. Right from childhood years, children ought to be sensitized to respect women.” It is time we, as a nation, listened and understood.
Any rape or sexual violence is a gruesome reminder of our society’s perception of women – as objects that are not allowed to question, only follow. Time and again we’ve heard people blame the victim of rape for wearing ‘indecent clothes’ or stepping out late at night. This perception needs to change.
We need to be more aware of the challenges women and girls in our country still face, and build a gender-sensitive and gender-equitable society. Attitude formation among adolescents is crucial since they are still at an age where attitudes are malleable, and could be reformed with targeted policy interventions.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) developed a gender sensitivity kit for teachers to enable them to ensure unbiased participation of both boys and girls in the learning process. However, all of these are simply guidelines to schools and teachers, and not compulsory changes. Despite the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offence (POSCO) Act urging schools to create a more inclusive environment for children, the CBSE guidelines are mere plans that haven’t properly been put to action.
With this in mind, TATA Tea, has moved into the second phase of the Alarm Bajne Se Pehle Jaago Re campaign, and undertaken the initiative to petition the ministry of Human Resource Development to include gender sensitisation as a compulsory subject in schools. Crimes against women are on the rise, and most of these crimes have their roots firmly entrenched in mindsets that harbour gender-biased notions. Sensitising adolescents in their formative years is an impactful method to bring about the desired attitudinal change.
TATA Tea has also made a video to start a discourse on the issue. Social activist Dr Ranjana Kumari is a part of the campaign, supporting the need for gender sensitisation in the formative years of a child.
TATA Tea believes that gender sensitization cannot be a ‘subject with marks’ and can’t merely rest as one of the prescribed books in the curriculum. It needs to be a programme that is custom-developed with storytelling, experiential learning, and other empirical methods to imbibe the value in children, in a fun and interactive way.
If you agree with TATA Tea that to change the society’s attitude to women, we must start with children, you can sign the petition here or give a missed call to 7815966666.