Why We Have to Talk Safety Before We Can Talk About Educating Girls in India

The reason The 50 Million Missing Campaign decided to make the post which I’ve re-blogged below is because we realized that the issue of escalating and systemic violence on girls in India is often getting trivialized in how the public, government and organizations are responding to it. ‘Educate them’ has become the automated, unthinking response to increased violence, indeed sexual violence on girls in India. It is almost a refusal to look at the reality of the SYSTEM and its participation in this systemic violence, because even as we say ‘educate them’ we fail to acknowledge that schools themselves, teachers, administrators, school bus drivers, etc are a part of the predatory network.

Where is a girl safe in India today? Not in her home, not on the streets, and not in the schools. For those who say, that this won’t change overnight, I say it’s an opinion that only the ‘unaffected’ can afford to offer, and therefore it is unconscionable! If your daughter was gang raped in school or on the school bus or walking to school, and the administration and police looked away, would you sit back and say “It won’t change overnight. We have to educate society and change its mindset?” No you would not! You will demand immediate safety and justice for your child! So why do we get so tolerant and accommodating in our attitude to the safety of girls when it is not one of our own children who is victimized? Why aren’t girl child organizations campaigns and NGOs, — speaking for the victims and their families instead of mindlessly preaching ‘educate them?’ Perhaps because those of us who recommend ‘education’ and ‘changing mindsets’ as the solution, are not just not among the directly affected people, but also who for some reason believe they won’t be?

What will stop the rapes and violence on girls in India? Ask those who have been DIRECTLY IMPACTED. And then become THEIR VOICE FOR CHANGE!


Prime Minister Modi recently told a nationwide gathering of students, that he intends to make the education of girls a priority for India.  He said his government has put into place many measures to ensure education for all girls, such as building toilets for girls. There are states in India where half the schools don’t have toilets, and this issue certainly needs attention.

RIGHT TO EDUCATIONHowever, The 50 Million Missing Campaign believes that one of the most critical issues that needs to be urgently addressed, is the escalation of incidents of rape and violence on girls while they are in school or while they are on their way to or going home from school.

Schools are now increasingly seen as unsafe places for girls in India.  This is one of the major reasons many families in rural and slum areas are unwilling to send their girls to school, and often…

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  1. Andrew (Andy) Alcock

     /  October 14, 2014

    Yes, everyone has a basic human to have an education and to be safe.

    It is a very sad situation that in India women and girls are not safe because of the dowry system, suttee, the bias towards having male children and the thinking of many men that women and girls are just there for their sexual gratification.

    These problems do not only occur in India, but it seems that crimes committed against women in India are not taken as seriously as they should be.

    Many years ago, I worked on a community radio program and one day I interviewed a very sensitive Australian man who worked in India for several years in a group that was fighting for women’s rights. Some of his stories about the suffering of Indian women were very disturbing.

    As a young person, I worked as a volunteer teacher in Malaysia where there are many Indians. While Indian women in that country had a freer lifestyle than their sisters in India appear to, there was a feeling that women were expected to treat their husbands like gods.

    I also met an Indian medical specialist who thought it was okay to organise a gang rape of a young woman because she was a tenant of her brother and supposedly left the flat she rented in a mess.

    Of course, not all Indian men behave like this. However, the international community must work towards ensuring that women and girls are treated equally and with respect and that crimes against women must be punished.

    We have the UN Declaration of Human Rights as a basis and we need to work toward this with more resolve.

  2. all the time peoples tell me : girls need more education! surely, I will not say that education is bad for girls but FOR BEING EDUCATED THEY NEED TO BE ALIVE!!! So we have to fight for their lives NO LAW IS DEFENDING THEM, NO PUNISHEMENT FOR WHOM WHO IS HURTING THEM . Till when we have to suffer this situation ?

    • Great to see your comments here Ghita. Thank you. This is exactly what we need to understand. We would understand this for violence based on other factors like race or religion. If someone was getting killed because of their race and religion, we wouldn’t assume that education is the solution to stopping mass violence. This is common sense. So I don’t understand why there is a refusal to see this in context of girls.


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