Odisha: Adolescent Girls from Bhubaneswar slums take up safety issues with authorities

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Bhubaneswar: As part of socially smart Bhubaneswar initiative undertaken by Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, a special public interface session was conducted today with adolescent girls, Pragati Sathi peer leaders and members of mothers’ committees from eight slums of BTCD area, at BMC Library premises in Bapuji Nagar.

Over sixty girls and women participated in this special session wherein officials of city agencies along with Women Police Station Inspector Ms. Iman Kalyani Nayak briefed the participants on various crimes against women and available legal provisions to safeguard their rights. Mentioning about various precautions that can be taken to avert any crime in the neighbourhood, she suggested to organize “Ama Police program” at community level for more effective redressal of the safety issues raised by the participants.

She also suggested to write down all issues raised by the participants in the meeting and submit the same by a slum committee to Capital Police Station or as a resolution to DCP, Bhubaneswar, for taking this forward.

Many of the participating girls shared safety related issues they face in their everyday life both in their neighbourhood inside the slum as well as study areas. A student of Class VII from Unit I Girls High School Subhashree narrated how girls in her school feel frightened while commuting on the road on their way to and from the school due to stalking and eve teasing by boys every day. Informing that many of the girl students drop out from school after Class VI for this reason as their families don’t feel safe to send them to the school, she narrated her story on how she also stopped going to school for one month before being persuaded by the teacher to resume studies.

Another girl Rubi from Shantipalli slum in Saheed Nagar happily shared how she and her Pragati Sathi friends successfully made a common area in the slum safe by declaring it as a no drugs/alcohol zone which earlier used to be very unsafe as a hangout place for nuisance makers.

It may be noted here that Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited had signed a MoU with UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population) for Socially Smart Bhubaneswar initiative, promoting people centric interventions through engagement and empowerment of youth, especially migrants, women and girls as active partners in the development and transformation of Bhubaneswar as a smart city. Social sector organisation Humara Bachpan has been roped in as the implementing partner for this initiative.

BSCL has also launched a campaign on gender sensitivity ‘Safe Campus, Safe City’ in various institutions of higher education in the city. The month-long campaign will include a series of activities such as symposiums, workshops, debates, poster and skit competitions, round tables involving students, experts, authorities and academicians.

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