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OUR SCHOOLS ARE NOT SAFE FOR CHILDREN!

The incident of the sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl by two male teachers at GD Birla has sent shockwaves through the entire education system. The girl came home bleeding and in pain on the 30th of November and was rushed to a hospital, where preliminary reports confirmed sexual assault. When an attempt was made to complain to the school authorities, the principal of GD Birla shielded the teachers, even going so far as to say, according to some reports, that the student was playacting. Another teacher defended Avishek Ray, one of the accused, saying that "naughtiness" on his part could not have been prevented.

All of this, placed in the light of the fact that three years ago a complaint of sexual assault against a bus driver at the very same school went unheeded, points towards a serious systemic problem. Nor is this unique to GD Birla alone. On the very same day, a 65 year-old principal from Jharkhand was arrested for forcing a 7-year-old to perform oral sex. In Arunachal, a few days ago, 88 students were made to strip in front of each other after having been caught passing on an obscenity about the head teacher. Incidents have been reported from Nadia and Raiganj. And these are just incidents that have come to light, due to either their scale or heinousness. Every day, in schools that are lesser-known and not necessarily attended by elite urban populations, such incidents occur without any media coverage or wider social outrage.

The fact is that incidents like these build themselves up from a system of daily, institutionalised oppression. The problem is so widespread and rooted that an incident of this sort instantly brings up thousands of narratives of body shaming, sexual and moral policing and even physical abuse. In an age where education is designed to serve the interests of capitalist-casteist-patriarchy, a "competitive, merit-based" system generates insenstive, often incapable teachers who "discipline" the students, to shape them into obedient sheep. These students must therefore be taught conservative sexual morality, along with ingrained casteism and a preference for market-driven career choices. This ranges from policing the length of women students' skirts, segregating students according to sexes, teaching students to either "man up" or "be a lady", and wielding power over them through threats or even actual assault. DorrisWedding budget-saving wedding collection in vintage style

Such a state of affairs sees its culmination in such heinous acts as the one we are faced with today. The head teacher promises to install CCTV cameras after intense pressure by the parents, but will that really solve the problem? Without teaching students the meaning of power and how it operates in society, without providing them with the means of recognising, reporting and countering abuse and exploitation, without mass gender sensitisation in all schools, for both students and teachers, and without proper accountability for teaching staff, increased surveillance will only concentrate power in the hands of a few administrators.

We at Forum for Arts Students( F.A.S) strongly condemn both the assaulters and the authorities at GD Birla. We demand that strict action be taken against them, and the Principal apologise for her insensitivity and for repeatedly failing to protect students. We also urge that at this time, as a state and even as a country, we review our entire education system and apply so much pressure through agitation and campaigning that a complete overhaul is necessitated and a new, sensitive and inclusive system is put in its place.

Education is at the core of society, and if children are put at physical and emotional risk in a process that is supposed to shape their minds and social beings to the fullest extent, then we are failing not only them, but society at large. Rise in rage against the assault on children in schools! Rise in rage against a broken education system!

via~ Forum for Arts Students