During verbal fights, cuss words and foul language are often used to express or even heighten one’s anger. This foul language may be, or become, violent or obscene. Children pick up on these words just as they do other words from adults around them, and from the media, and soon the child’s daily vocabulary has some unpleasant new entrants. To nip this growing habit in the bud, Mahanagarpalika schools in Kolhapur have launched an initiative called “No Cursing” under which all students must take an oath that shuns the use of abusive language.
“Girls and boys are equal” is the slogan of the Meena Raju Manch (MRM), which has been engaging students in schools across Maharashtra in discussions on gender equity. “No Cursing” is an offshoot of MRM – because most common abuses are sexist, referring to mothers, sisters and wives in obscene ways. The students begin to understand that the sexist language used so casually in everyday conversation goes counter to the idea of gender equity. Instead, they are encouraged to express their anger in more appropriate ways, without insulting one another.
In January 2016, all corporation schools in Kolhapur took part in the Shiviband Abhiyan (“No Cursing” programme) under MRM. Taking the oath, students pledged, “The school is a temple of learning. I will speak and hear only good speech. So the person facing me will also use good language. I will try to persuade people to not use bad language.'” The oath is repeated by students everyday in the daily assembly, and any student who slips up has to write down and bring 10 positive thoughts a day for 10 days.
The students are warned about the negative consequences of using curse words and abusive language – how these escalate quarrels, cause pain, are defamatory, and may sever relationships. They are taught how to vent their emotions using words more gently; they receive informal training in yoga, meditation, and chanting favourite poems to calm the body and mind.
Despite these measures, if some student are unable to give up this habit, she or he is counselled. This is one of the ways in which MRM is working to reinforce ideas of gender equity among an entire section of citizens.
Blog: Sarita Sutar, Education Department, Kolhapur Municipal Corporation
Photo: Solanki Chakraborty
Translation and editing: samata.shiksha team