Durga's might highlights plight of girl child in Bengal

Durga's might highlights plight of girl child in Bengal

While celebrating the victory of Goddess Durga, coinciding with International Girl Child’s Day, on Friday should have highlighted the power of women, but the occasions in Bengal only serve to reflect the sad state of girl children.

The festival of Durga Puja honours the goddess who rid the world of Mahishasur and other demons to usher in the light of goodwill and knowledge, while in reality it did not seem to have shed light on some aspects of knowledge, particularly women’s empowerment.

Happpy festivities apart, Bengal has been shown to occupy the bottom when it comes to welfare of girl child. Child Rights & You (CRY), a prominent NGO, places Bengal among those states where love for the girl child is near-dismal. CRY also believes that lack of education among girls is detrimental to India’s equitable growth.

The organisation has been working with partners to bring succour to girl children.
Sonam (name changed), a girl from the village of Moussa under Manteswar block in Burdwan district, was discovered by CRY’s associate organisation Vikramshila after extensive operations in the district. A class VII student at a local school, Sonam was doing well in her studies. Just when the young girl started to dream of higher education and a career, her parents decided to get her married.

“She was stunned to learn about the plan, but couldn’t go against her father’s wishes. Her father paid no heed to her repeated pleas to let her complete school,” CRY officials said.Sonam had not given up her dream of a good education and career even after getting married to 18-year-old Shamim. She would not have succeeded in realising it, had it not been for volunteers of Vikramshila.

Intervention by the volunteers, who spoke to her parents and in-laws and managed to buy some time, proved positive. They persuaded them to let sonam stay in her father’s house until she completes her education and becomes an adult. Sonam got re-enrolled in Class VIII at the Moussa Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra.

“I’m only too happy to go back to school,” she said with a beaming smile as she once again walked with her friends to school. While Sonam wants to see that “all girls in the locality are in school until they complete education”, not all are as lucky as her to enjoy their right to education, CRY officials noted.  “The girl child in India faces vulnerability in so many facets that it is impossible to have a single-pronged approach to address the violation of her rights. We need the communities and the government to work in tandem and ensure access to education,” said CRY’s regional director Atindranath Das.

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