Plan Supports Calls for Reform Following Attacks in India
Following the horrific rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December and the gang-rape of another young woman over the weekend, Plan is supporting the call for fast track courts in India to address all cases of sexual assault and violence against girls and women. The Indian government should immediately focus on quick reforms of investigative and judicial procedures. Further, there needs to be sensitive handling of survivors of sexual assault during medical, police, and court procedures, so that they are not further traumatized. This needs to be accompanied by a sustained social campaign to eliminate the stigma attached to rape survivors, and must encourage more comprehensive reporting of the crime.
The violent and extremely brutal nature of these attacks leave the world shocked, angry, and concerned about the safety of India’s girls and women. Plan's Because I am a Girl Global Ambassador, Freida Pinto, famous for her role as Latika in "SlumDog Millionaire" spoke out against the horrific crimes in her country on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront.
"We need to keep this fight alive." Pinto added, "Justice needs to be served."
Strong patriarchal mindsets and low value placed on girls' and women's lives and rights contribute to the impunity with which gender-based violence is committed in homes and in public spaces across the country in cities, towns, and villages. “To ensure a sustained reduction in the instances of violence against girls and women, work is needed to educate the police, judiciary, lawmakers, institutions, and communities to be gender sensitive, gender responsive and ultimately, gender neutral,” explains Rajdeep Roy Chowdhury of Plan India.
Combating Child Labor in Andhra Pradesh
India has the largest number of working children anywhere in the world. As soon as parents think their sons and daughters are old enough and strong enough to work, they are pulled out of school and sent into the fields or factories. Often as young as nine, these children are extremely vulnerable to exploitation, sexual violence, and trafficking—with girls being the most at risk.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, girls working alone in the fields or searching for food on the streets are easy targets. To protect them, Plan India is collaborating with employers, trade unions, and local government offices to educate and prevent the hiring of child labor.
As part of Plan’s Because I am a Girl initiative, we’re also working with parents, community groups, teachers, and district level governments to create awareness programs aimed at preventing girls from being put at risk from the start. Our goal is to educate parents on why it’s so important for their daughters to stay in school and to help them understand that the whole family benefits when a girl is allowed to continue her education. She’ll not only earn a better wage when she does go to work someday, but will also be better protected from violence, early pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.
Plan has a range of projects in India which aim to eradicate gender-based violence. The protection of children and young people from violence in any form and in any setting is core to our work. Since 2008, Plan’s Learn without Fear campaign has been raising awareness around children’s rights and advocating for the implementation of guidelines to prevent corporal punishment, sexual violence, and bullying in schools. Plan is working in partnership with UN Habitat and Women in Cities International for and with adolescent girls to address issues of their safety in public spaces. Adolescent girls are currently involved in conducting safety audits in their communities and will be sharing their findings with relevant stakeholders from the government. And our ‘Engendered’ project involves young men and women identifying issues of gender discrimination within their communities and developing a manual for young people on gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence.
Chowdhury adds, “This violence manifests itself even before girls are born in the form of sex selective termination of pregnancies. Our ‘Let Girls be Born’ project addresses this issue.” We are currently working in five states with a low ratio of girls to boys.
The Young Health Programme, a global partnership between AstraZeneca, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Plan, supports the health and well-being of young people in India by increasing awareness of their rights around their own sexual and reproductive health, as well as providing access to self-defense training to girls in one of the communities where we work.