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FROM LOCKER ROOMS TO CLASSROOMS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Instances of non-consensual sharing of images online to threaten and shame girls and women have raised serious questions about the mindsets of not only boys but of all youngsters, and their use of social media.
  • Public opinion has pointed the finger at the growing and sometimes nefarious influence of technology.
  • A quick fix of deactivating social media handles or deleting so-called provocative photos is often the most common response to such situations. However, this does not address the real problem.

COVID-19 Effect

COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges that women face – the National Commission for Women has reported a surge in domestic violence and cybercrimes, which has made girls and women more vulnerable as they struggle to fight another pandemic of violence and abuse inside their homes and online.

Efforts in the right Direction

  • Young minds are malleable and therefore a concerted effort must be made to shape positive mindsets at this critical age.
  • As the boundary between the real and the virtual world becomes increasingly blurred, the perceived risks increase.

Initiatives

UNESCO’s information booklet, ‘Safe online learning in times of COVID-19’, developed in partnership with the National Council of Educational Research and Training, supports the creation of safe digital spaces and addresses nuances of privacy, especially in the current context.

Potential

The National Education Policy 2020 provides historic opportunities to shape the educational response to these challenges for decades to come.

One of the most important lessons to be drawn from movements towards gender equality such as #MeToo, is that change can be effected through peaceful means when people come together to confront the dominant social norms.

Way Forward

  • There is merit in engaging with school communities, civil society organisations and governments to define alternatives for pre-existing norms of masculinities.
  • A community-based behavioural change programme can be designed to provide young boys with the skills and knowledge they need to challenge existing gender norms and take action to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.
  • Schools can adopt School-Related Gender-based Violence programmes and curricula, so that conversations can move out of the locker room and emerge as healthy discussions in the classroom.
  • Ultimately, societies across the world must sensitise children and young women and men towards understanding the repercussion of their choices and guide them towards a sounder actualisation of their own individualities.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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