Comic strips on social issues like gender discrimination, superstition, child marriage and drug abuse are being used as a tool to educate children from Maharashtra's backward blocks.
A two-day workshop in this regard was recently organised by UNICEF where more than 50 children from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) across the state participated.
The workshop trained the children and their teachers to frame comic strips on various issues like gender discrimination, infanticide, alcoholism, honour killing, malnutrition, superstitions, domestic violence, child marriage, caste discrimination, child rights, drug abuse, child abuse, eve-teasing, child labour among others.
Aided by UNICEF, the Maharashtra government has adapted the workshop programme to reach the girl child as a part of its child rights initiative where comics are used as a medium of communication.
"The stories these children draw are very touching. We didn't expect children of this age to go through so much," said Deepti, one of the facilitator of the workshop.
The children depicted some serious issues, which they don't normally discuss, yet are moved by them, by way of comics, she said.
Aishwarya Madake (13), from Tirthpuri village in Jalna district, took the opportunity to sketch a story from her personal experience, which showed her struggle in convincing the importance of education to her friend's father and not to stop her friend from attending the school.
The importance of the workshop is in addressing issues of gender discrimination that are intrinsic to this social setup due to lack of exposure, gender co-ordinator for the workshop, Nutan Maghade said.
From the right to vote, to the right to education, girls need to be made aware of the fact that they have rights within their own families, they have seen the effects of being denied what is entitled to them, Maghade said.
"We need to stress on the fact that we are here to help and that they can reach the authorities on their own to report a child marriage or child labour," she said.