Aditi Panda

This RAJA, let us take a pledge to stop all abuse and crime against our Pari – our daughters

The festival mood is set and Raja fervour is in the air with women, particularly girls dressed in their new attires with matching accessories, all set to enjoy the three-day festivities. As we all know it’s all about caring for our daughters. Just thinking about children brings a smile on the face and the heart fills with love, but only love is not enough to keep our children safe.

In today’s day and age there are horror stories reported by the media about the atrocities on children almost every day and in every part of the country. In this context, recently the Odisha Police successfully conducted a 15-day campaign ‘Pari Pain Katha Tiye’, against child abuse with aplomb.

The campaign had 15 chariots named as ‘Pari Express’ from different parts of the state, each covering  a distance of 2 districts in 15 days and converging in the capital on June 12th for a valedictory function. The chariots received a warm welcome at different locations by local police, district administrations and other social stakeholders with active participation from the local public to create more awareness on this menace and at the same time effective measures to prevent and report this unpardonable crime.

Every Pari Express was very well equipped with different audio-video aids and LCD screens to display the message. In addition to sensitising the public the campaign also played a pivotal role by sensitising the police officials on this delicate but significant issue.

‘Child abuse always existed in the society and more in families where the children got abused from people who they knew and trusted. It’s difficult to fathom the dirty and sick mentality of people who derive pleasure in abusing innocent children who carry that baggage all their lives. Even if they speak about it to the elders after a lot of tug of war in their minds the elders shoo them away refusing to believe them. It’s necessary to make people realise that their own near and dear ones may hurt their children irrespective of the sex.

“Girls are vulnerable but today even boys are unsafe,” shares Gayatri Mohanty, teaching in a local school.

Quoting, the Director General of Police, Mr. RP Sharma in the press release on the campaign, “in last 3 years, 1200 cases of child abuse were reported on an average almost every year and in many cases the victims were targeted by known persons including people staying in the same family and locality.”

Restricting sexual assault cases against minor girls requires awareness in the society and sensitisation of the people. Bandana Das, studying in class 9 says, “‘Girls are not safe anywhere, not in school or in parks or even at home”. Because of this situation we cannot pursue sports or even enjoy social life. Because of few perpetrators and dirty minded people, we hesitate to take genuine help from, a good person and start suspecting his good intentions. We are scared to go to the toilet alone in the afternoon. Self defence should be made compulsory in school’.

Child abuse by male members, servants and rich employers were very common since olden days but after Television, now the awareness has reached the villages. Actually, the children have to be told what abuse is and most importantly the parents should listen to the children. The child is more important than what the relatives will say is. More awareness and counselling to the parents is a must to handle these children with love and sensitivity. “More stringent and immediate punishment is also essential to stop people from abusing children”, feels Arpan Behera a parent of twin daughters.

Child abuse has been happening and will continue if we as a society do not take up cudgels against this menace to stop it. Celebrations are needed but it’s more vital that we keep our daughters safe from hurt and abuse so that they happily participate in festivals but at the same time do not hesitate to do what they want and believe that every person who helps her will not hurt her. It’s hard hitting but thought provoking. Happy and Safe RAJA to all.

(Aditi is a freelance writer and pursues interest in the area of social issues)