Mariam Rauf Choosing to Shed Victimhood
Mariam Rauf urges schools to include personal safety education in syllabus.
As an impressionable child, Mariam Rauf, a 22-year-old life skills and English language educator from Kottayam, never knew what paedophilia was. It took her many more years to realise that she herself had been one of its victims. Abused on multiple occasions between the age of 3 and 14, the ordeals surely left an imprint on her. Confused, ashamed, and lost for years on end, she eventually managed to pull herself up and is now busy training children and adults about personal safety. Driven by her own experiences of abuse as a child, Mariam has now kick-started a campaign to include personal safety education in schools. She feels this is achievable as there is a strong intent on the part of the government to clamp down on child abuse. It is unlikely to affect academics either as it may need only a couple of sessions in a year.
As part of the initiative, she has also chosen to shed her right to anonymity and launched an online petition on Change.org, which opens up on her ordeal and makes an appeal to the State government to introduce compulsory training in Personal Safety Education (PSE) for students, parents, teachers, and staff of all government schools. The petition is addressed to Education Minister C. Ravindranath and the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KESCPCR). “About 38,200 people, who have endorsed my petition thus far, believe it is possible. By realising it, I can save at least one child from undergoing what I had to face,” she says. According to Mariam, personal safety education for children is about making them aware of their body and empowering them to express their discomfort in case of physical transgressions. “For most of us, personal safety of our children is limited to the ‘Stranger-Danger’ equation, while the actual threat can come from even inside the family. All people can do their part by recognising the physical and emotional signs shown by a child who is being abused and the signs that an adult is abusing a child,” she said.
(http://www.thehindu.com (By U. Hiran, Kottayam )