A 16-year-old girl living in Gujarat showed exemplary courage by seeking help of the 181 Abhayam women’s helpline to get rid of her van driver who used to constantly harass her.

The girl studies in class XI science stream in Bardoli town. The van driver was harassing her for the past few months. On Tuesday (Sept 26), he dared to pull the girl towards him when she was climbing down the vehicle. She quickly went home and informed her parents about his misbehaviour.

She also told them that he used to pass lewd comments at her and pull her dupatta sometimes.

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“He asked her to be the last to get down from the van so that he could talk with her,” said a 181 Abhayam counsellor.

The parents refrained form taking any actions against him fearing social stigma. Instead, they asked the girl to discontinue her studies to end the problem.

Her parents, however, couldn’t deter her from pursuing her studies as she chose to approach Abhayam’s women’s helpline.”

“We conducted awareness programmes in schools and put up stickers to make women aware. She had seen them and called us to seek help,” the counsellor told TOI.

The counsellors met the girl and her parents and tried to convince them to send her to school. The parents agreed.

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The counsellor also said, “We have assured them all support and advised them to go to the police to lodge a complaint against the driver. However, they are unwilling to take legal action fearing social stigma.”

What this 16-year-old did for herself is commendable. Her passion for her studies compelled her to take this bold step. The incident, however, once again brings into light the problem of women’s safety that puts girl in a grip of fear.

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