On Wednesday, a 22-year-old teacher from Kovilapatti in Thoothukudi district killed herself after allegedly facing sexual harassment at the school that she worked in. Despite parents alleging foul play in her death, police have dismissed the claims. What’s more, the woman's father alleges that the school offered to pay him if he did not escalate the case.
Uma Shankar* had been working at MM Vidhyashram for the last eight months. According to her parents, she did not face any issues in the first five months. But over the last two months, two members of the staff, namely - Muthuprakash and Shakthi were allegedly 'torturing' her.
"She kept saying that that they were torturing her. They apparently used to take photos of her on the phone. It is definitely because of them that my daughter took such a decision," alleges Shanthi*, the deceased's mother. "This Shakthi used to keep smiling at her and she came back and told me several times that she didn't like it. She used to teach students up to class 8. He apparently used to stare at her even when she was talking to the children," she alleges.
Her father Muthukumar* also corroborated the statement.
"I offered to go talk to school authorities but she didn't want me to," he tells News 18. "Her mother told me that these men spoke something sexually explicit to her the day before she committed suicide," he alleges.
Muthukumar also alleges, "The school even called me to bargain. They are offering money if I don't file a case."
The police, however, deny the allegations.
"The girl committed suicide because of heavy workload, not because of sexual harassment" says an investigating official in the case. "If it was harassment, she could have come and complained immediately. Isn't she educated? We have filed a case of unnatural death," he adds.
The school management when contacted refused to comment on the matter.
(names changed to protect identity)