S. Sameena, 15, a topper in ninth standard is reluctant to continue her studies after summer vacations. It is not money or lack of interest in studies which is making her have second thoughts about her career. It is eve teasing.
On her way to the school in Falaknuma, she is accosted by four boys who would force her to take their mobile numbers and keep in touch with them.
But for Sameena this is just one side of the problem. She is afraid that her family would blame her of misconduct if she approached them for help.
“Four boys used to follow me everyday on my way to school. They would often block my way and demand that I befriend them. Though I am not at fault, I am afraid of asking my father’s help as I am sure that he will beat me up and force me to discontinue my studies,” she says. It’s better to stop going to school on the pretext that I am not interested in studies than face the blame, she pointed out.
Sameena is not alone in her plight. Many young girls in old city are caught between devil and deep sea as they cannot muster enough courage to approach their parents nor deal with the situation themselves.
“Girls in old city are not an exception in facing harassment at the hands of men, but they are more vulnerable as they feel that they do not have proper avenues to redress this problem. They are always concerned that they will be blamed of improper behaviour when they approach their families,” a NGO worker, Rashmi Kumari said.
These girls are also afraid that they will be married off at an early age if their parents know that some boys are after them, she said. Rashmi was part of a survey done by a city based NGO, Ignis Careers, under the Naandi Foundation ‘Nanhi Kali’ project.
Close to 160 girls, from 11 schools in old city, were interviewed on various parameters under the project. About 37 percent of the respondents complained that they were facing sexual harassment and almost all of them expressed their helplessness in dealing with it, Rashmi said.
Teachers in old city too are at loss in dealing with these incidents.
“Some of our students complain that they are facing harassment on their way to school but we cannot face the wayward boys on our own. Girls are also reluctant to complain to the police as they are afraid of the consequences,” a high school teacher complained.
NGO survey reveals that 37 per cent of them were facing sexual harassment