After the #MeToo movement finally hit the country, women from different parts of India began speaking up about the harassment they faced in different set ups. But what came as a surprise was the calling out of one of India's largest educational institutions, Delhi Public School, RK Puram. Several alumni of the school took to social media to speak about their experiences of sexual harassment, misogyny, and bigotry at the hands of the school staff and teachers.
A female student on Facebook wrote about her harrowing experience. In grade 8, her physics teacher asked her to unbutton her shirt and lift up her skirt. When she spoke up, the headmistress disregarded her complaints and the harassment continued. “In eleventh grade, I was in my physics lab, where I was trying to work, a lab assistant came and pinched my ass, tapped it and walked away,” she recalled in horrific detail.
“In the twelfth grade in the physics lab, I’m bending over my bench to line up some instrument and I turned to see that three different lab assistants had rearranged their chairs so they could look up my skirt,” she continued in a post that has made many more students speak up.
Another male student recalled how his female classmates were often labeled promiscuous for having male friends, resulting in bullying from the faculty. In another Facebook post, a female student shared her experience with the teachers when a boy in her grade was accused of sexual assault. She shared, "I was in Class 11, a guy in the year above me sexually assaulted a much younger girl on the school's campus. The girl's parents complained to the then-principal of DPS RK Puram. The rapist's father also showed up and announced that since there had been no witnesses, the assault had not taken place. The Principal allegedly agreed with him. A female teacher who was in the room was horrified, turned to the rapist's father, and told him that she would file a complaint with the police and tell them that she had witnessed the assault because he also 'couldn't prove otherwise'. Shaken (probably by the thought of a scandal), the Principal suspended the rapist for a few days to end the matter as quietly as possible."
The former principal of DPS RK Puram, Dr Saini was also accused by a former student for passing a sexist comment and not taking action against the harassment complaints. When asked about these accusations against the school, the former headmaster told a news organisation, “I am no longer the principal. I am the director of the DPS society now, and as a director, it is not good on my part to give a statement to any newspaper or TV channel.”
Educational institutions should be working towards making the school a safer space, instead of covering up and dismissing harassment on campus. Here is hoping more students and even teachers speak up and demand justice.
Images - Shutterstock
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