She became a popular name when she started a petition on Change.org asking for Personal Safety Education (PSE) to be made compulsory in all government schools in Kerala. The petition, addressed to Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR) and Education Minister C Raveendranath, had over 38,000 signatures (at the time of writing this article).
Today, she stands as a confident, independent woman lending a helping hand to every person in pain, but her journey was riddled with a lot of trauma. From the age of three until 14, she was abused by three different men. It was at the age of 19, that she remembered her suppressed trauma.
“On one side, your brain is acknowledging what had happened. So is your memory. This has happened. You’re not imagining anything. You’re not nuts. And the reason why you felt so bad and hurt all these years, it makes sense. Somebody you care for, somebody you trust has done this to you and they’ve admitted it. That’s very important. It’s a huge step in healing,” she says.
She recollects an incident of how a woman had once taught her daughter that her vagina was a flower and that she shouldn’t allow anyone to pluck it. Once when the child was abused, she ran to her mother saying, ‘Uncle plucked my flower.’ The mother forgot the euphemism she had taught and it took a while before she could comprehend what was happening with her child.
As a first time voter, Mariam’s only demand is to make personal safety education compulsory in schools. “All I am asking for is that in the hundreds of hours that a kid is in school in a year, just take out two to three hours. Just a couple of sessions out of the whole number of school days to teach them personal safety and life skills,” she says.
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