Provide counselling to students who speak out about sexual assault
This petition had 108,461 supporters
My teenage cousin committed suicide by jumping off a high-rise building in Kolkata, India. She did this because her school – the very institution that is expected to teach about morals and ethics – failed her.
Four years ago, my cousin spoke up about an incident she had faced in school. She was molested by a classmate during school hours on school premises. Instead of being supportive, her teachers labelled her an attention seeker, a liar, and the principal refused to acknowledge her complaint and instead insulted my aunt for filing a baseless complaint .
In her diary, my cousin wrote that life was never the same after that incident. That if someone had listened to her, maybe then she would have been able to bear the burden. Instead, she was shunned and bullied by the very people who should have stood up for her.
My cousin is not alone. There are thousands of young women just like her who face assault and harassment and have no one to turn to. They fear being shamed and ostracized – they fear being blamed for something they never did or wanted. Most teachers have no empathy or skills to deal with such sensitive issues.
Counselling is an important part of the education process in many countries, but in India, this basic and much needed facility is not provided in most schools.
I have started this petition to implore HRD Minister Smriti Irani to issue guidelines to all schools, asking them to ensure that if a student speaks out they must be given access to professional counselling.
Furthermore, a "code of conduct" must be instituted, and proper training must be provided to school teachers and principals to ensure an empathetic environment. An independent civil society group that has experience in dealing with sexual abuse and assault must develop the training material.
PM Modi has launched the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme to ensure a girl child's prosperity, education and life. My cousin couldn't be saved, but other can.
It’s time we stopped covering up sexual assault in India. Let’s ensure that when a child is assaulted in any way, he/she will receive professional guidance to cope and deal with such incidents.
Sign my petition to ensure that the government provides our kids with a safe, healthy, and terror free environment in schools. Let’s ensure every student in India have access to professional counselling they need.
To learn more about my cousin's case, the school's behaviour, details and current status, please check the links below
CNN-IBN News story
Today: Smita is counting on you
Smita Sharma needs your help with “.@smritiirani: Provide counselling to students who speak out about sexual assault”. Join Smita and 108,460 supporters today.