Initiative to give girls a ‘shield’ from abuse

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It's a blot on society that girls and women have to be wary of predatory males, but that being the unfortunate fact, an initiative by the Junior Chamber International-Kochi to teach girls to protect themselves to the extent possible, is a good one.

The JCI-Kochi is tying up with schools to train girl students from Class VIII to Class XII how to prevent physical abuse by elders, including relatives, as also abuse in public conveyances like buses and other crowded places. The initiative is called ‘Shield’ and has been completed in three schools. Some 1000 girls have received the training so far.

“We teach them what is a gentle touch and what is an unsavoury one. This will help them deal with relatives or others who might take advantage of them. Some of them may be harmless, but others may have bad intentions. The exercise also aims at sensitising girls about ‘reading’ people,” said Mr Harish Kumar, an active member of the programme.

The training group consists of eight women professionals and two male members of JCI-Kochi. The initial module comprises two sections lasting three hours. The schools that have been covered so far are Christ King Convent, Ponnurunni, Bhavan's Vidya Mandir Elamakkara, and SOS Children's Village, Aluva.

Some of the trainers are karate masters and train students to repel physical advances. “Girls are particularly vulnerable in public transport systems like buses. We teach them techniques to prevent such advances using movements that will get them out of the situation,” said Harish Kumar.

JCI-Kochi vice-president Kishore Kumar said, “We intend to take this programme to government schools also as poor children studying in government schools. At a later stage we mean to involve the Education Department also.”

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