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Equality posers from teens

“If girls wear western outfits it raises eyebrows. But all boys wear trousers. Why this gender disparity?”Class VII student Anju Kumari, Kasturba Gandhi Residential School, Murhu

“Please depute policewomen at all thanas. We have the right to approach the police without fear, hesitation or shyness,” Class VIII student Nidhi Kumari, Government High School, Mandar

“Girls are killed before birth as parents have to shell out hefty dowry for daughters. Poverty keeps us out of school and makes us vulnerable to middlemen,” Class VII student Jaya Lakra, Kasturba Gandhi Residential School, Namkum

Let’s teach our boys to treat girls with respect, so that there is no rerun of last month’s horrific Delhi crime. We want powerful laws and full police cooperation,” Class VI student Nita Lakra, Kasturba Gandhi school, Chanho

Meet the village schoolgirls wise beyond their years.

As their urban counterparts gush over Justin Bieber and Ranbir Kapoor, these teenagers from Jharkhand’s hinterland, who brave a much harder life, are asking serious questions and demanding a safer and better quality of life.

This was evident on Tuesday at Kishori Mahapanchayat organised for girls by the State Council of Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), social welfare department and NGO Plan India at Amar Shaheed Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo Zilla School in Ranchi.

Around 3,000 schoolgirls from state government and Kasturba Gandhi residential cradles across districts Ranchi, Khunti, Pakur, Dhanbad, Gumla, Simdega and Latehar interfaced with the two governor’s advisers Madhukar Gupta and K. Vijay Kumar, bureaucrats, development planners and policymakers.

Girls were candid about their problems — acute poverty that makes them vulnerable to trafficking, sexual harassment, social pressure to drop out of school and start working or raising a family and lack of civic safety nets and infrastructure.

Many girls, who said they saw school as the way out to a better life, complained about lack of drinking water, toilets, books, benches and teachers.

The untutored articulation of the girls impressed chief guest Madhukar Gupta, adviser to governor Syed Ahmed.

Gupta, who happens to be a former chief secretary, praised the effort and the girls for showing a mirror to the current situation.

He added: “First, we need to change the mindset of the people. We are looking forward to taking up all the issues raised in this platform and sort out the problems.”

Rooplakshmi Munda, chairperson of the SCPCR, said they had taken the lacunae in facilities into consideration.

“We have directed respective district administration to provide required facilities, the lack of which have been raised by the girls. This is urgently required for the speedy implementation of RTE Act by March 31,” she said.

Governor’s adviser K. Vijay Kumar, also the former director general of CRPF, and SCPCR member Sanjay Mishra also praised the girls for voicing their problems.