Police gear up to sensitise students on gender issues

I like to tease girls and show off my latest gadgets to them in front of my friends because it makes me feel powerful,” revealed a class 9 boy to his counsellor during a gender sensitisation programme started by Delhi Police.

After organising self-defence classes and counselling for the girls of city schools and colleges, Delhi Police Special Police Unit for Women and Children are organising programmes to sensitise school and college boys on gender issues as well.

Amid the growing cases of sexual offences in the capital, the need to make adolescent boys aware of their opposite sex was felt by Delhi Police.

“It was felt that without sensitising boys about gender issues, we will not be able to achieve the goal of preventing crimes against women in the city. Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi mooted the idea where apart from giving self-defence classes, boys should also be sensitised through counselling about various issues related to the opposite sex,” said Varsha Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Police Unit for Women and Children.

Several specialists on gender and child-related issues and academicians from Delhi University have been roped in to talk to the boys aged between eight and 18.

“In the last week of October, we arranged these sessions in around 30 schools and two Delhi University colleges. Each session lasted for two to three hours. And we are organising a self-defence winter camp in some schools in December and January where one-day gender sensitisation for boys is also a part of it,” Sharma added.

Talking more about the programme, Neena Pandey, Delhi University’s associate professor at Department of Social Work, who is also a part of the programme and counsels boys on gender issues, says she spoke with boys on various topics ranging from pornography, drugs, and eve-teasing, and she thinks that the initiative by Delhi Police is something which needs to be sustained in the future also.

“In our societies, a male child mostly gets the information about sex and gender through his peers or from his parents. In both the cases, the information tends to be half-baked and distorted. In our interaction, we helped them understand their role in the society and busted lot of myths and prejudices which have traditionally been attached with sex,” said Pandey.

“The response of the boys was very good as they spoke their mind about sex and issues related with the opposite gender. We got to know about their point of view and we had a healthy discussion,” Pandey added.

Booklets, movies and plays are part of the programme through which the issues of gender and sex will be tackled by the counsellors in the programme.

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