Petition to Shri D. V. Sadananda Gowda, Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, Arvind Kejriwal, Vasundhara Raje, Devendra Fadnavis, Vijay Rupani, Maneka Gandhi
End Female Genital Mutilation in India
At the age of seven, I was subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Mumbai, in a most unhygienic and clandestine manner. The shock and trauma of that day are still with me. Like me, there are thousands of my Dawoodi Bohra sisters who have been subjected to genital cutting as children and even today thousands of Bohra girls are being subjected to this practice, since it has been ordained by the clergy of our community. A few months ago, women like me got together under the forum - ‘Speak out on FGM’ - to begin a conversation on this extremely secretive ritual which has caused physical and psychological damage to each of us in some way or the other. We the undersigned women, who have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also known as ‘Khatna’ belong to the Dawoodi Bohra community which has its major adherents in India. The practice of FGM is done surreptiously and in a clandestine manner to all the girl children in our community, without any consent whatsoever. The alleged reason for this tradition is to curb the sexual drive of women and control them. The Dawoodi Bohras are amongst the most educated in India, yet we are also the only Muslim community in India to practice FGM. The practice has nothing to do with religion and is more of a cultural practice. Most of us are too scared to speak out publicly. We fear ostracization, social boycott and exclusion of our families from the rest of the community by our religious clergy if we object to the continuation of this practice. FGM has no health benefits, in fact it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. FGM is often done without anaesthesia, without medical supervision and sometimes the procedure goes horribly wrong. It often leads to pain, shock, tetanus, genital sores, excessive bleeding, etc. It also has long-lasting psychological impact on the victims, ranging from sexual disorders, fear of sexual intimacy, nightmares and post traumatic stress disorder. In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on the elimination of FGM. Across the world FGM is being outlawed in many countries. Nigeria and Gambia recently made FGM illegal after women came together, campaigned and raised their voice. FGM is banned in over 20 countries in Africa itself. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. According to WHO, FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. In Australia, three Dawoodi Bohras were held guilty of FGM recently by the Supreme Court of New Wales, Australia. The case was closely watched by the Dawoodi Bohra community in India. We urge the Government to pass a law banning this practice in India, such that anyone found involved in aiding, abetting and perpetrating this practice should be punished. Pressure of this law and fear of punishment will be the best way to put a stop to this cruel practice. I along with my Dawoodi Bohra sisters want to raise our voice against FGM in India and put an end to this. You can support us by signing this petition. Sign our petition and ask the government of India to act against Female Genital Mutilation! Masooma Ranalvi, Aarefa Johari, Insia Dariwala, Shabnum Poonawala, Nafisa Pardawala, Farida Ali, Tasneema Ranalvi, Hanan Adarkar, Shaheeda Kirtane, Tanvee Vasudevan, Ummul Ranalvi, Zainub Poonawala, Sana Vaidya, Zehra Patwa, Farzana Doctor, Fiza Jha, Zarine Hashim On Behalf of SPEAK OUT ON FGM
Petition to Prakash Javadekar, Anil Swarup
Make schools safe for children
First Juggilal Poddar Academy and now Ryan International School - another child paid the price, this time with his life for school's inefficiency to make it a safe place. How many times do we have to read the news of a child getting raped/molested while being inside the school campus, supposedly one of the safest places for children? Aren't we tired of hearing that the suspect had already done such kind of act earlier(current/previous jobs), but school management was not aware of it or chose to ignore it? For how long do we have to send our children to school with the worst fear possible? After endless discussions with parents, we have come up with a set of rules which should be made mandatory in all schools to ensure our children's safety. We want to make it extremely hard for the perpetrator to commit such a crime. Here are some rules we have come up with - 1. CCTV Cameras should be installed in all places (corridors, washroom doors, class rooms, stair cases) along with close uninterrupted surveillance (by staff+parent committee)2. Live streaming of CCTV cameras should be made available to parents3. No adult should be allowed to use the washrooms dedicated to kids, except for the assigned attendants. Additional measures should be taken so that these attendants do not become the security threats themselves. Counselors (from point 9) should talk to these attendants regularly.4. Background checks and police verification of all the staff members (teaching/non-teaching, male/female) must be made available to parents. Schools should be heavily fined if background checks and police verification are not done5. Outside workers (such as labourers) must not be allowed in the campus during school hours6. Make self defense classes mandatory for both boys and girls7. Child Abuse Prevention Committee should be appointed including staff and parents to tackle local issues. Such committee members should be allowed to make random visits 8. Child counselor should be a full time employee in every school and she/he should talk to every child regularly9. Counselor for staff to gauge their mental health should also be appointed10. Children (right from pre-primary levels) should be given basic education related to child abuse in the language that they can understand. For example, telling them about their private parts, safe and unsafe touches etc. 11. Safety audits should be conducted on regular intervals to ensure all of the above measures are in place. If a school fails the safety audit, it should be penalized heavily. Please feel free add your suggestions. Any help would be appreciated.
Petition to Maneka Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi, Y S K Seshu Kumar
Penalise Schools that Fail to Safeguard Their Students
In January, a 6-year-old boy was found dead at Ryan International School, Delhi. 5 people, including school employees, were arrested and then released on bail the same day. Attacks against children in schools happen regularly across India. There is outrage and shock immediately after the incident, and then things return to normal. Sign my petition asking CBSE to penalise schools where children have been attacked, raped or killed because of a lapse in security measures. Many schools make parents sign waiver forms that declare that the school cannot be held responsible for the child’s safety and well being. Even if a student is raped or killed within school premises, the school will not be answerable. Sign my petition to make schools take responsibility for our children. We have to stop this. If all parents in our country speak up, we can get a response from CBSE, the board with the maximum number of schools across India. After that, the other boards might also act. Sign and share my petition. Do it for our children. Do it for our country’s future. ------ We are changing our ask from "Derecognising schools" to "Penalising Schools" after a lot of feedback from Parents and Teachers. We don't want parents and students to suffer because their school has lost recognition. We want schools to be worried about heavy penalties and implement standard protection for all their students. This should cover: 1. Stringent Background checks for all teachers and staff.2. Security to ensure authorised and monitored entry/exit of students/strangers/parents.3. CCTV coverage to gather evidence of any wrongdoing.4.Surprise audits of schools for safety measures.Schools to obtain a yearly certificate for safety measures.5.Incase of any security failure the offenders to be punished, institutional head and certifying authority to be heavily penalised, These are only some high-level ideas, but we can discuss more once CBSE responds. We want to the board to ensure that all schools recognised by CBSE comply with these standards or are hit by stiff penalties, especially when children in these schools are hurt or attacked.
Petition to Maneka Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi, CBSE, ISCE , Maneka Gandhi
Teach Kids & Teachers How To Fight Sexual Abuse: Make it part of the syllabus
Trigger Warning: Content About Sexual Abuse I was 4-years-old when I was sexually abused. It was a trusted family member. I was too confused to know what was happening. When I was 8, the caretaker of my apartment molested me by pretending to play a game. My aunt laughed at me when I tried to talk to her. What happened to me continues to happen to thousands of children across the country. In these horrible times, no child is safe. That’s why I want schools in India to have compulsory Personal Safety Education. I was abused till I was 19 years old. But not one person noticed what I was going through. My education suffered and they blamed me. They didn’t see the depression. They didn’t even see the physical signs. Throughout my childhood I kept looking for a safe space. But it isn’t easy to talk about abuse in India. Children must learn how to be safe, to identify and avoid predators. Teachers and staff must learn how to identify signs of abuse and provide counselling and parents must learn how to protect their children. And should a child ever face abuse or even the possibility of abuse, they will have a teacher they can trust and safely turn to. A teacher who won’t laugh it off, who won’t ignore the warning signs, who will be there for the child. I’m asking the two largest school boards in India - CBSE and ISCE to make Personal Safety Education a compulsory part of the syllabus. This will impact lakhs of children in India. Sign my petition now so that I can show the Government, the CBSE and ISCE that lakhs of Indians want their children to be safe. Help me make this country a little bit safer for children.
Petition to Maneka Gandhi
Order an in-depth study on male child sexual abuse in India #EndTheIsolation
I was 10 when I was sexually abused. Men who I had dearly trusted had violated me. The violation became a part of my life. It continued. Later on, as I grew up confused about love, men, and the pain inside me, I realised, what happened to me, was called ‘Child Sexual Abuse.’ The knowing should have freed me. Instead, it sent me deeper into isolation. I carried my world in my head, and for some time it did work in protecting me, but in the process also alienated people around me. As a filmmaker, stories became my refuge. They moved, inspired, and had the power to bring together strangers. Over the years, I met many more survivors living a life of penance for a crime they had not committed. One of them was my husband. “I was sexually abused at the age of 5, by a trusted caretaker. The abuse went on for a month. Most times it lasted for a few minutes. The memories though, live in me forever.” My husband and I have lived through an extremely painful process of coming to terms with our abuse. His, and the other stories I had heard from friends I knew, made me realise that even men can get sexually abused. Millions of men are living an isolated life of pain endured as children. Then why were their stories never told? The government’s 2007 study on child abuse reports that a shocking 53.2% of children say they have experienced one or more form of sexual abuse. Of this number, 52.9% are boys. Boys of all ages, and of all backgrounds, across locations and states, report that they have experienced sexual abuse. It is quite unfortunate that while on one hand, a girl’s sexual abuse is scorned, and looked at as a serious crime, most men are pressurised by society to pass off their sexual abuse as a rite of passage. Sexual exploitation by older boys is often misinterpreted as Sexual Exploration and hence younger boys feel obligated to hide it. Many a time, I have also come across people who refuse to believe that boys can get raped. Men are ridiculed, their sexual orientation is questioned, and the pressure to live up to the façade of society’s macho image, weighs in so heavy, that ultimately the only way out, is to live a life within. There is hardly any attention given to male child sexual abuse by the government. As a mother of a 17 year old boy, I strongly believe that no male is born aggressive, violent, or insensitive to women. It is an acquired behaviour, learnt from the people around them. That’s why I started this petition asking the Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi to do an in-depth study on male child sexual abuse. A study on this topic might help us get insights on how we can prevent the use of violence in this society. It might also help us curb the growth of sexual violence in men at its onset. Research will help shed light on male mindsets, and certain hidden aspects of the long term effects of sexual abuse on men. The POCSO laws might merely act as a platform to punish sexual predators, but conviction rates are extremely low. What about the numerous cases out there, which are not yet addressed? What about the millions of boys, who have lived with the pain, and perhaps gone on to unleash their pain on other helpless victims? Why is it that till date we have invested so much in the cure but so little in prevention? Sign my petition and ask the Women & Child development ministry to take the first step to end sexual violence against children & *women.
Petition to Nikki Haley, United Nations, Narendra Modi, Theresa May MP, Justin Trudeau, President of the United States
Childhood Statelessness should be declared Torture and No Separating Siblings and Families
Childhood statelessness has been around for centuries and has been even recognized as torture by a sitting US Supreme Court Judge and Human Rights groups but yet no international body will declare it as torture. It's time to solve centuries old wrong, lets begin anew for tomorrow - with innocent children of today. There are millions of children made stateless every year. We ask the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (UNSRT) to declare childhood statelessness as torture. UN already has the "I, Belong" program, the USA has laws like Girls Count Act (also boys), India has Save the Girl Child, and almost every civilized country has a similar program. In spirit, we are asking for the SAME things which these laws are asking within their own nations but we want the same protections across international borders for any child. No one wants to be born stateless, it happens. Now, let us move forward. Stateless = Loss of freedom UnStateless = Freedom Which side are you on in a civilized world? I can assure you whatever it is that floats your boat every morning to wake up — be it your family, your children, your work, equal rights, human rights, child rights, women rights, etc, etc — DEFENDING a stateless girl child and sister and her social, ethical, moral, legal, medical issues COVERS 90–95% of whatever it is you are waking up for everyday. We request and pray for the help of the unaffected majority to come to our help and support to end this discrimination and all it needs is a "stroke of a pen" by a person in power. If as a global community, we support the Kimberley Process for "conflict-free" blood diamonds, is there an equivalent process for "conflict-free" stateless and international Surrogacy born children? Is the absence of such an international policy creating "blood children/siblings" embroiled in conflict of childhood statelessness? Childhood Statelessness is a legal paperwork issue and in most cases the victim - an innocent child is almost NEVER at fault nor created the situation but are left to deal with the complex torturous situation. Its a matter of "stroke of a pen" from a person of authority. Typically, childhood stateless survivors are already exploited without their consent. Whether fleeing terrorists with their parents or displaced in-place or left behind by an adult or lacking proper adoption records in international cases, there are so many different ways a child can become stateless. Why not help? The legal labyrinth is confusing enough for well-intentioned adults, how would a child with no or minimal resources navigate? A legal identity gets a child access to education, access to benefits, healthcare, a passport and ability to travel and explore the world, its FREEDOM and so on. Lack of an identity is a domino effect and a small lie if caught can even setup vicious circumstances even in adulthood creating more torture. We are asking for the same protection as afforded within national boundaries like US, Canada, UK, India, even UN with its "I, Belong" campaign and any civilized nation already has such laws on its books. We are asking that the UNSRT recognize childhood statelessness as torture just like they have recognized other conditions where the survivor/victims are innocent and in this case they are also children with a bright future ahead!
Petition to Prakash Javdekar, Arvind Kejriwal, Anil Swaroop, Manish Sisodia
Central law to regulate fee hike across private schools in India
Schools have turned education into a business Private Schools are hiking their fees every year! From 15% to 25% and sometimes as high as 200%. No reasons given ,no consent taken. So where is all the money going? Clearly not where it matters the most as has been exposed by increasing incidents like the latest Ryan school tragedy. This Profiteering and commercialisation of education must stop. As a mother I have been struggled with the fee hikes myself. As a lawyer I have been fighting court cases on behalf of these aggrieved parents. The Supreme Court in 2004 had directed all state governments to enact a fee regulation act and constitute a fee regulation committee. Despite several such SC judgements only some states like Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Punjab, Gujarat Haryana and Rajasthan have enacted the act so far. However every state has a different fee regulation act. They have shortcomings which have come in the way of their proper implementation. Education is the responsibility of both the Centre and the States. The Central government must act now because states have failed in trying to curb this growing racket. That’s why I started this petition asking the Education Minister, Prakash Javadekar, to introduce a law to regulate fee hikes across all private schools in India. The MHRD can intervene in two ways: 1. Make an amendment in RTE act and include provision for regulation of Fees. Appoint a committee at the central level (central free regulatory committee)and state level (State fee regulatory committee). The committee at the central level should be an appellate body. 2. Make a separate legislation with stringent provisions for fee regulation. Under this there can be a fee regulatory bodies both at the central, state and the district level. a. The state and district committees should be empowered to look into the accounts of the schools and trusts to check for any profiteering and commercial activities.b. The committee should be able to penalise any school found to be charging excess fees. The excess amount should be refunded to parents.c. For fee revision it must be mandatory for schools to submit their proposal and justify the hike. d. Schools should not be allowed to collect fees till their accounts have been verified by these committees. The verification should be displayed on the school notice board e. Parents should be able to approach these committees in case of fee disputes or complaints Government intervention is the need of the hour to ensure that education does not become a tool to siphon off money. School should be free to set their fee structure provided it is reasonable and not amounting to profiteering. I therefore request the HRD minister to step in and bring about the much needed reform and consider this proposal for enacting a central legislation or to amend RTE act.
Petition to Shri Prakash Javadekar, Shri Manish Sisodia, Shri Upendra Kushwaha
Stop Schools from De-Registering Students With Low Grades/Marks
Should schools be allowed to deregister students because they got low grades/marks in their classes? Many schools tell parents to take their child to some other schools because their child got low marks/grades. This practice is rampant in 8th and 10th classes. The reasons for schools adopting such practices could be many including: the school wants to ensure good 10th and 12th results students weak in studies requires more effort from the faculty the schools could get new students for seats emptied by such students The schools adopting such practices are unmindful of the trauma inflicted on the child, whose self-esteem is crushed, who is burdened with a loser-stigma and is scarred for life. Having studied in a school for many years, now such students are forced to look for another school that will take them in. The pleas of distraught parents of such students are of no avail and are left with no choice but to desperately search for new school for their child lest they lose a precious year in their child’s study. Is it then any surprise to see the increasing cases of depression among children as young as 12 years and many even resorting to extreme steps like committing suicides. This petition seeks the Hon. Minister HRD Shri Prakash Javadekar, Dy Chief Minister Shri Manish Sisodia and the Hon Minister of State for HRD Shri Upendra Kushwaha to: Frame clear guidelines to ensure that schools do not deregister students for low grades/marks Setup dedicated panel to look into such incidents Launch awareness campaign to educate students and parents of recourse available in such instances Signing this petition will help countless young children avoid such traumas and demonstrate to the authorities the urgent need for immediate steps to be taken to stop schools from deregistering students just because they got low grades/marks.