Rajasthan Schoolgirls Leading Change, Teachers Under Scrutiny for Inappropriate Conduct

The 'Good Touch-Bad Touch' campaign in government schools empowers students, particularly girls, to recognize inappropriate behaviour, fostering a culture of awareness and resilience. Over 60 teachers have been suspended in 2 years.
Students watching short film on inappropriate touching in a govt school.
Students watching short film on inappropriate touching in a govt school.

Jaipur- In Boondi, a 7th-grade student found herself a victim of molestation by her teacher, a betrayal of trust that came to light on February 26, 2023. The young girl, refusing to be silenced, confided in a friend who promptly informed her parents. The teacher faced suspension, and legal proceedings were initiated.

In a non descript village called Jhakol in the Dungarpur district, a 12-year-old girl endured unspeakable torment at the hands of her teacher in a government school. Subjected to repeated acts of rape, she lived in fear and silence as the perpetrator exploited her vulnerability. However, a turning point came when the girl participated in a 'Good Touch-Bad Touch' session. Empowered by the knowledge gained, she bravely broke her silence and reported the heinous acts to her parents. Swift action was taken, and a case was lodged, leading to the teacher's incarceration.

In the educational landscape of Rajasthan, a remarkable transformation is underway as young schoolgirls shed their hesitancy and emerge as vigilant individuals capable of distinguishing between genuine warmth and inappropriate behaviour. Empowered by the "Good Touch-Bad Touch" campaign, initiated in 2020 across Rajasthan government schools, these girls are now equipped with a profound understanding of personal boundaries.

Guided by the 'Swimsuit Rule' , a powerful concept imparted through the campaign, these students comprehend that the areas covered by fabric are exclusively theirs, inviolable without their explicit consent. This newfound awareness has cultivated a sense of empowerment, enabling them to confidently discern between a friendly bear hug and unwarranted touching. Previously unaware of the nuances of good and bad touch, students are now not only sensitized but also empowered to report any discomfort caused by teachers.

The impact of the Good Touch-Bad Touch campaign is becoming increasingly evident. According to a report in Dainik Bhaskar, over 60 cases of indecent behavior by teachers have been reported, followed by legal and disciplinary actions in past two years. Some have faced suspensions, others incarceration, and a few are undergoing departmental inquiries, highlighting the campaign's effectiveness in holding perpetrators accountable.

Students learn to distinguish between friendly pats and inappropriate touches.
Students learn to distinguish between friendly pats and inappropriate touches.

Bureaucrat Naveen Jain, who initially introduced the concept during official visits even before assuming his role in the education department, has transformed the campaign into a permanent and effective feature.

The campaign, aimed at raising awareness among students, particularly girls, encourages them to understand the difference between a warm, friendly gesture and inappropriate touching.

Now the Education Secretary, Jain's proactive approach is commendable. Conducting seminars across districts, he laid the foundation for the campaign. In August 2022, he institutionalized the initiative, leading to its remarkable success.

The campaign has been integrated into the curriculum, extending to a staggering 65,387 schools across Rajasthan. A total of 101,424 sessions were conducted, reaching 4,383,908 students, ensuring widespread sensitization and education on appropriate behaviour.

"We remain oblivious to the challenges girls face from male teachers until they courageously step forward. This campaign has proven to be a tremendous asset," remarks Maina Jain, a government school teacher at Sakroda in Udaipur district. She sheds light on the significance of Saturdays, which are designated as 'no bag days,' providing an opportune time for discussions on the sensitive topic of inappropriate touching, particularly for the younger students in primary classes.

Maina emphasizes that even though the formal training sessions have concluded, the commitment to the cause persists. Regular refreshers are conducted to ensure that the information remains ingrained in the minds of the students. An exhibition would be held soon with a stall dedicated to the campaign where charts would be presented on the topic. This ongoing effort is crucial in fostering confidence among the girls, creating an environment where they feel empowered to come forward and speak out against any form of misconduct.

Sushila Nagori, a retired school principal too hails the initiative. She emphasizes the urgency of such campaigns, highlighting the significant knowledge gap that existed before their implementation, particularly in rural areas. Previously unaware of the nuances of good and bad touch, students are now not only sensitized but also empowered to report any discomfort caused by teachers.

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