With an objective to empower girl children in all respects including health and safety a new student forum named Shakthi Team was launched on Wednessday in schools of Salem District.
The initiative comes from the Salem District Administration in the wake of a series of atrocities against girl children in Salem District and in other districts. Shakthi Teams in schools will act as a platform for girl students to share and express their problems. The forum has been activated in 673 middle, high and higher secondary schools in the district. As many as 4499 members have been enrolled in the Shakthi Teams.
Delivering presidential address in the launch function cum training programme at Emarald Valley School, the Collector Rohini R.Bajibakhere said that the Shakthi Team concept has been conceived with a deep concern and though not as a collector but as a woman to promote women power, stop harassment and crime against women. The forum would enable girl students to seek solutions to their problems at the school level itself.
Shakthi Teams will have as members, officials from all departments including a teacher from the school and a police officer. Students from class 7 to 12 will be members of the forum. Other members will include a child consultant from District Child Protection Unit, a Medical Officer from the Department of Health Service to address needs of growing girl children and educate them in hygiene and health, an officer from Integrated Child Development Scheme for providing advice on diet and nutrition. The official members will address the various problems brought up by the girls in an coordinated manner. In situations where a girl finds the solutions inadequate or issues not addressed, she could write to the Collector on a self-addressed post card given to the student members. A special officer will monitor such post cards and take it up for appropriate action, said the collector.
Releasing the self-addressed post card, the Commissioner of Police, K.Shankar said that in case children need police help or protection, they may ring up phone number 1098 and phone number 181 in case of women seeking help. He said that in villages child protection meetings are being held once in three months. The Taluk and District level child protection meetings are being held regularly. Stringent laws for crime against women and children help a great deal in producing safe environment. The Shakthi Teams in schools will go a long way in ensuring safety and overall welfare of girl children said the Commissioner.
The Collector released a booklet containing phone numbers of officials so that the girl members may access in time of need. T.Ganesha Moorthy, Chief Education Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Shyamala Devi, Deputy Dire.ctor Health Services Dr. K Poonkodi, District Social Welfare Officer, R.Vijayalakshmi, Child Protection Officer, M.Selvam were among those present.
(Centre for Community Media)