Sameena (name changed), 20, a resident of Srinagar, who belongs to a lower middle-class family, says she had to change her school two years ago after she faced harassment from her male schoolteacher.
As she was not able to speak up, she says she had to make an excuse to convince her family into changing her school.“I told my family that I don’t want to study in that school because teachers don’t teach well. I feared to speak about the real issue because of the stigma attached to it,” said Sameena, who was in Class X when the incident took place. “It still haunts me. I feared if I will speak up, people will question my character.
The same pain is felt by hundreds of students.
”Recently, a Class X student of an affluent school in Srinagar faced the same ordeal.
She alleged that her teacher sexually harassed her.“I did speak up but it took a lot of courage. It was not easy,” the student said. “I kept tolerating it for some time, but then it crossed the limit and I shared it with my friends and family.
The school administration tried to intimidate me. Schools discourage students to speak up on these issues. They don’t consider it a problem,” she said.
In Kashmir, which is a conservative society, there is no mechanism in schools to deal with cases of sexual abuse.
In the past six months, officials say over 10 students of government institutions have faced sexual abuse by their teachers.
Nayeema Mehjoor, chairperson, State Women’s Commission, says they keep of raising awareness on the issue and encourage students to come forward.“We do get complaints from higher secondary schools and colleges about sexual harassment. We have been campaigning against it.
In our society, victims are stigmatised by their families and that’s why many students never speak up about their ordeal,” she said.
Dr Zaid Wani, a senior psychiatrist, says in the aftermath of harassment, victims usually get into depression.“Some of the victims may even become suicidal after the harassment,” he says.
Shaheena Jan, 45, a government teacher from Srinagar, says the Department of Education has under-reported the cases of sexual abuse.“The department doesn’t have a proper way to deal with such cases. Last year, the department had said that no case of sexual abuse took place in any school, but there were some cases that were not reported,” she says.
“Religious preachers are also involved in cases of sexual abuse, but society shuts its eyes to them,” she adds.
Courtesy : Tribune News