“It appears to curbing students’ freedom rather than preventing harassment of school girls”
The Puducherry government’s decision to introduce measures that appeared to curbing students’ freedom rather than preventing instances of harassment of school girls, evoked criticism from women’s rights activists and academicians.
Speaking to The Hindu , All-India Democratic Women's Association general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said the decision to make girls wear overcoats and separate boys and girls was a “silly response” that trivialised the issue at hand.
“There is invariably a trend to blame the victim, which is totally unacceptable. Politicians tend to keep taking measures that restrict the movement of women, which is a grave injustice to women especially at a time when they are entering all spheres of society, be it education or work. The public space is the domain of both boys and girls,” she said. The need of the hour is to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual harassment be dealt with in a swift manner and the culprits be given stringent punishment, she added.
Head in-charge of the School of Women’s Studies in Pondicherry University Lazarus Samraj said the main problem was that no real experts were consulted before making the decision. Principals and headmasters/mistresses did not have the required expertise to formulate policy. Politicians should make a move to consult people in higher education who have done their research in the relevant fields before coming up with such policy decisions.
The move to have separate buses was an extremely negative move. “What is needed is to teach children how to mingle with the opposite sex with maturity. Separating boys and girls leads to frustration, which leads to alienation between the sexes and that could give rise to potentially violent reactions,” he said.
Typically, in co-education schools, students learnt to cope with life and people of the opposite sex better than in schools where boys and girls are separate. It was very common to see a line of boys standing outside a girl’s school or college. This phenomenon did not happen much outside co-ed schools/colleges, he said.
Associate Professor of Psychology in Pondicherry University B. Rangaiah also voiced his concern over the decision. Preventing interaction between sexes was unhealthy and instead of that, it would have been better to re-introduce moral education in schools and colleges.
Another thing that was the need of the hour was a sex education for schoolstudents. By creating a healthy atmosphere and a proper understanding of sexual behaviour, the students would be able to understand what was right and what was wrong. With the information available on the internet, most children were aware of their sexuality. However there was still no healthy forum for these children to understand what to do, he said.