Shabnam did not even change her clothes when she returned home from school. She looked for her younger sister Nisha.
"Freshen up and eat something before you start playing," Amma shouted from the kitchen. But Shabnam did not care. She just couldn't wait to tell Nisha all that she had learned about 'Good Touch - Bad Touch' in school.
Shabnam, is a student at the Primary School, Bara, in Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh in India. Today, her Principal, Archana Madam, had taught the children about 'good touch-bad touch' in school. This information was absolutely new for Shabnam, who studies in fourth grade.
After being reminded several times by her mother, Shabnam finally changed her school uniform. As she sat to eat, all she could do was talk.
"Archana Madam told us today that there are some body parts which we should not let anybody touch - anyone other than our parents. Nor should we touch anyone else there. If someone tries to touch us, we must ask them not to and if they still do not stop, we have to shout to call people and run away," she told her mother and sister.
Fifty percent of children who participated in a survey conducted by Human Vision India, a human aid organization, in 2017 were victims of sexual abuse. The survey covered more than 45,000 children aged between 12 and 18 across 26 states of India.
Under the 'Ayushman Bharat' scheme, in April this year, sex education was made mandatory in schools across the country.
"I did not realise that my daughter is growing up and that we need to tell her about her own safety. It feels great now when my child comes home every Saturday and tells us what she learned in school," Shabnam's mother said.
Principal Archana Gupta says, "Under the 'Ayushman India', children are encouraged to study sexual abuse, nutrition, mental health as well as sexually transmitted diseases, non-communicable diseases, injuries and violence. We also teach them about sexual and reproductive health. For this age group, knowing about 'Good Touch-Bad Touch' is very important."
"We have a weekly sex-education class. We call children from Classes II to V and give them information about private body parts and how to differentiate between good or bad touch," she continues.
In 2016, according to Crimes in India report, 1,06,958 cases of crimes against children were registered. Of these, 36,022 cases were registered under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses) Act. The number of registered cases for child exploitation in 2014 has increased from 8,904 to 14,913 in 2015. Under the POCSO Act, Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of cases registered (3,078), followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,687 cases), Tamil Nadu (1,544 cases), Karnataka (1,480 cases) and Gujarat (1,416 cases).
Like Shabnam, Nikhil, Ruby and Amit are also learning new and important things about their health and body by attending the sex-education class every Saturday. "Madam has told that if someone touches our hands, cheeks, head, then it is right but we should not let them touch our neck, chest, thighs or hips at all for they are our private parts," said 12-year-old Nikhil.
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