Angry parents who gathered outside a convent school in south Kolkata after its dance teacher was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a student said male teachers should be disallowed from teaching in girls’ schools. They also claimed to have written to the school authorities following a similar incident in another prominent city school, asking them to take precautionary measures.
A Class IV student had allegedly been sexually assaulted by two teachers in another city school in December last year. Both teachers had been arrested. “We had raised the issue after the previous case in front of school authorities, thinking they would definitely take some action. Had they done so, maybe this incident would have been avoided,” said Pihu Sanghmitra, a parent.
Parents said that of the 20 teachers in the school, two were male. “How are they entertaining a male teacher in a girls’ school? What is more shocking is that they learnt no lessons from the recent incident in the city. We parents send our daughters to school thinking they are in the safest place. Who shall we believe after this?” asked another parent.
Others at the spot alleged that most of the CCTV cameras in the premises weren’t functional. While the school principal could not be reached for comment, authorities too remained tight-lipped. Parents who came to pick up their children said there was a need for better awareness on handling child sexual abuse complaints, as well as sensitising students on differentiating between “good and bad touch”.
“If a child complains about sexual abuse it should not be ignored. Teachers need to be equipped to deal with the complaints,” said Anindita Dutta, a teacher of the school, whose daughter studies there too. Another parent, Ipsita Bhattacharya, told The Indian Express, “I am not scared but I am concerned. If I was scared I would not be able to send my daughter anywhere since this is happening everywhere. I would rather suggest that schools be transparent with parents. There must be a common platform or committee where parents and teachers can discuss and look into the grievances of the parents while keeping the identity of the complainant confidential. I think no one can predict things, but after the school got to know about it, they should have handled it more maturely”.
A police officer said that any complaint of sexual harassment of children, or even the apprehension of it, must be immediately conveyed to the police, who have to inform a court within a day.