Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged students to look inwards — at themselves and their own families — to combat sexual violence, in an interactive session Monday which was telecast to students in Delhi government, government-aided and private schools.
In the session, held at a government school in Shakti Nagar and telecast live to other schools from there, Kejriwal made all boys stand up and take the following oath: “Main shapath leta hoon ki main hamesha sabhi mahilaaon ki izzat karunga. Kabhi kisi ladki se durvyavahar ya durachar nahi karunga. Agar kabhi koi mahila musibat mein hoti hai, toh apni poori kshamta se unki madad karoonga (I take an oath that I will always respect all women. I will never misbehave with or mistreat any girl. If any woman is ever in trouble, I will help her to the best of my ability).”
He also asked all girls to speak to their brothers in the presence of their parents after going home, and to make them take the oath as well.
The students themselves had several answers to a question by Kejriwal on why they think crimes against women take place regularly.
“There’s a gap between us teenagers, and our parents and elders. We can’t share our queries and thoughts with them. These things have to be taught and discussed with us when we are at this age. We see that there are grown up men who hold important positions and do wrong things. They are educated but still do such things, and it’s too late to change their views,” said Anushka, a class XI student of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya No. 1 Shakti Nagar.
“If we need to change mindsets, we need to start with our families. Many families think their sons are better than their daughters and treat the children as such. They must give equal opportunities,” said Shailja, her classmate.
Another student, a boy, pointed at the reluctance of women to approach the police for help fearing lack of support, while several students spoke of a lack of fear of the law.
Kejriwal used the platform to talk about initiatives by his government to address women safety concerns. “We have installed 1,40,000 CCTV cameras in the streets and localities, and starting tomorrow, we are installing another 1,40,000 cameras… our aim is to install CCTV cameras in every corner of the city to ensure criminals are traced and arrested… Starting tomorrow or day after, we are also installing 2,10,000 streetlights across Delhi to make sure there are no dark spots in the city,” he said.
“But till people’s mindsets are not changed, stringent laws or police or government action can do very little.”
In this, he also pointed towards the culpability of families in perpetuating rape culture. “When someone does something bad, their family goes out to support them in this country. If there is a fear of being disowned by their families, they will think several times before doing any such thing,” he said, encouraging girls to tell their brothers that they would dissociate from them if they committed a crime against a woman.
Kejriwal also announced that he would conduct such interactive sessions every three or four months in schools to keep the conversation on sexual violence alive.
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