The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Street skits on gender crime

Jalpaiguri, Feb. 14: Move over boring speeches, enter street plays.

The woman and child welfare department, along with workers associated with Integrated Child Welfare Scheme (ICDS), has hit upon a new formula to spread awareness on crimes against women. They have come up with three streetplays on women trafficking, child marriage and the dowry system.

A group of ICDS or anganwadi workers from Jalpaiguri Sadar block performed the plays at the district collectorate here today as several onlookers stood and watched.

'We have already organised these plays in rural areas of the block, like Berubari and Belacoba,' said Banshari Chakrobarty, the child development programme officer of Jalpaiguri Sadar block. 'Because crime against women and young girls is increasing every day, we thought of creating awareness in an unorthodox manner. Instead of speeches and discussions, streetplays, with local dialects, are likely to be more effective.'

Jaya Lahiri, an employee of ICDS, Jalpaiguri, who is taking part in the streetplays, echoed Chakrobarty. 'In rural areas, people can easily interpret our message in these skits. For us, it is altogether a different form of task, which is both interesting and entertaining,' she said.

Chakrobarty said it was the anganwadi workers, most of whom hail from rural areas, who helped make the concept a hit. 'When we discussed the issue with them, they were enthusiastic. They composed songs in local dialects keeping the themes in mind, sketched the characters and rehearsed regularly before coming up with three different plays which together make a 45-minutes show,' Chakrobarty said.

According to Jaya, around seven ICDS workers are performing in the three plays and four others have been assigned backstage duties, singing the songs composed on the themes. 'We plan to visit every rural and urban area located within the block,' one of the performers said.

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