24 Jan 2023  |   04:27am IST

Keeping the girl child protected

Initiated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Government of India, in 2008, January 24 is celebrated as National Girl Child Day to spread awareness regarding the inequalities girls face in society and to raise awareness on the importance of female education, health, and nutrition. Goan parents talk about how they also give their daughters’ safety importance
Keeping the girl child protected

Dolcy D’Cruz


ccording to the women and child development ministry, National Girl Child Day on January 24 is meant to create awareness about the rights a girl owns, to give them opportunities like everyone else and to support the girl child of the nation and remove gender-based biases. Besides these basic needs, it is also important to focus on the safety of children too.

Artist Sandesh and photojournalist Bindiya Naik’s eight year old daughter, Kadambari is the apple of her parents’ eyes. With creative freedom for art and reading, Bindiya feels that children should be guarded not just from the physical world but from the digital universe too. “I take the trouble of taking her to and from school as I don’t trust anyone with my daughter. I have taught her about the good and bad touch and she is never left alone. If we are not home, she is at least with her grandmother. Even when she is out to play, it’s mostly children from the vicinity who are of the same age and we make sure that some parents are around. The age-old rule of not talking to strangers or accepting chocolates has been reminded to her many times,” says Bindiya from Ribandar.

“What is important now is to keep a tab on what children are doing online. Since the pandemic, they were given a free rein with the mobile for their online classes. They now have more knowledge of the apps and features than most parents. I keep a check on what Kadambari is browsing and referring to online, the content she is reading and the apps that she is using,” adds Bindiya.

Assavri Kulkarni is a renowned photographer in commercial and creative photography while Nirmal Kulkarni is a well-known conservation scientist, nature photographer and visual artist. No doubt their daughter, Naia would fall in love with the outdoor world. This seven year old wonder, loves bird watching and spending time in the forest. “We often hear parents say that forests are dangerous for children but the urban world too is more dangerous than the forest now. Development in the cities is made without keeping children in mind. For village children, childhood memories are filled with visits to fresh water springs and climbing trees. That’s how you grow in life too, thinking about carefully climbing up,” says Assavri.

She further adds, “Naia travels everywhere with us. If I’m out on a shoot to a tribal village, she is with me to soak in that experience and if Nirmal is researching in the forest, she is there too, to admire the animals. There should be no stereotypes for children. Girls should be given equal opportunities as boys and the freedom to choose from toys to clothes to colours.”

Nicole is 15 year old daughter of Daniel and Marjorie D’Souza from Assagao. She is a class 10 student of Sharada Mandir School, Miramar, and her parents are very protective of their daughter. “We know all her friends, each family and what their parents do. We are very particular that once she makes new friends that we get a little history about the company that she keeps. We know her school and tuition timings and we drop and pick her up from her classes. We also know her liking for food and encourage her eating habits. She even shares information about the type of movies and books that she reads. Being a girl child, we are overprotective and so no overstays and sleepovers, since she was born. Whatever was the time of the night, she was bought back home. We are particular about her dress code too and though she is a teenager now, it can get difficult to monitor her dress code,” says Daniel D’Souza, a noted landscape designer.

As a child, Nicole is very docile, confident and positive, yet mature for her age. “Luckily, for us, we didn’t have much difficulties, we gave her her own space. She is independent and can stay home alone but we always monitored her when it came to her safety,” adds Daniel.

Saby Dias is popularly known as Saby de Divar for his Konkani political songs on the tiatr stage. However, off stage, he is a complete family man giving attention to his wife, Tracila and two children, Aushmin and Zia.

A protective father to his eight year old daughter, Zia, he made sure she learnt the phone numbers of the parents. “From a very young age, I made her by heart our phone numbers and told her to immediately head back to her teachers and call us if an unknown person tells her that we have sent that person to pick her from school. She studies close to home at Our Lady of Divar High School and though the bus drops her to the school, I pick her up from school,” says Saby about his darling daughter.

He further adds, “Zia is hardly out of the house. She has one friend so she is either at her place or her friend visits our home. Since the pandemic, outdoor playing has been limited. But even if we take her to the playground, we are always around just like the other parents, keeping a close eye on the children.”

Parents of seven year old Arya and nine year old Ayesha, professor Aaron Paul Fernandes and Emera Remedios make sure never to leave their daughters alone. "We have informed them about the good touch and bad touch and they are usually never left without family. We don't post details of them on social media either. They don't travel with anyone and we have also warned them from accepting eatables from unknown people. We are constantly worried about their safety. Even if we are not with them, some elderly family members are always with them," says Saligao-based Emera, a lawyer who is currently a homemaker following her passion for soap and candle making.