HYDERABAD: Action Aid India, in collaboration with several grassroot organizations conducted a ‘National Convention on Child Advocacy’, a three-day event focusing on the issues faced by the children from the marginal backgrounds.
As many as 300 children between 10-18 years from 14 states across the country will be sharing their experiences on fighting different hurdles related to health, education, gender rights. etc.
Here are some children who narrated their stories at the inaugural session of the event which proved that being a child does not restrict them from fighting the social evils and changing the world.
Toilets for Girls
Lack of separate toilets for girls in the slum dominated Jalaripeta in Vishakhapatnam motivated the 13-year-old Ruth to stand up and fight for the cause. ‘’We live right near the beach and there was no separate hideout for the girls and women to relieve themselves,” Ruth said. With the help of the local NGO Chelimi, she decided to put an end to the open defecation in the slum.
‘’We have met the elders and local leaders, gathered support and took up the issue with the local corporator Puliraju,” she said. “The corporator understood our concern and assured to construct a block having four toilets beside the community hall,” she said. ‘’We constantly persuaded the corporator to write a letter to the Greater Vishakha Municipal Corporation to release funds for the development of the slums and finally four toilets were built,” she said.
Ruth believes that the collective efforts of the children will definitely act as change agents in fighting the social evils in the society like child marriages.
Discrimination on the basis of caste is one of the biggest problems the country faces today. ‘’During the mid day meals, we were made to sit in a different room and were not allowed to talk to our friends,” Devender, a 16-year-old from Madhya Pradesh said. “We had a discussion with classmates and nobody understood why we were being discriminated,” he added. With the help of the Local NGO Dalit Sangh, Devender, along with classmate Vikas managed to counsel and change the minds of the teachers and the parents and today, no such discrimination exists.
It is really unfortunate that certain actions like catcalling and hooting at girls on the roads do not count as sexual abuse and are often ignored in the society. However, when 16-year-old Saynoor from Delhi faced the same problem, she decided not to keep quite. ‘’Going to school everyday involved a lot of mental trauma. The boys in the local areas used to follow us and at times went to the extent of pulling our dupattas,” she said.
She mustered the courage to lodge a complaint with the police along with her friends. ‘’The Station House Office was very co-operative and acted immediately. It is almost six months since the event happened and now we don’t have any eve teasers in the area,” she added.