“Dad, please don’t send me to school anymore, I will learn cooking, and washing clothes and help mother in her home tasks”
These were the words of a 11-year-old girl from Hyderabad to her parents, after she was allegedly made to stand in the boy's washroom by her school administration, for not wearing her uniform, on Saturday.
The shocking incident occurred at Rao's High School, Old MIG, BHEL, in the city, and the Class 5 student was punished despite the parents writing a note in the girl's dairy, explaining why she was not wearing her uniform.
In a letter to the principal of the school, the girl's father wrote, "In the afternoon, when my child used the washroom and was going back to her class room, a non-teaching staff member of the school saw her, and did not even bother to listen to my child’s explanation for not wearing a uniform."
"She dragged my girl child forcibly to the boys washroom and asked her to stay there for some time as punishment. This act of abuse has had a very bad impact on my child and damaged the personal dignity of my child. She came home and burst out crying, while explaining the incident," the letter adds.
The parents of the girl also alleged that when they approached the school, the management supported the non-teaching staff member and ignored their complaint.
"Even after my complaint to the principal, they failed to assure us that they will take care to avoid such punishments in school. They strongly believe that their method of punishment is necessary to 'manage' the children," the father alleged.
"Now, my child is mentally tramautised and ashamed of facing her co-students. She is trying to avoid sitting with us, speaking to us and is spending her time in loneliness," he added.
The parents also approached NGO Balala Hakkula Sangham, which condemned the incident.
"We are treating this as a serious crime and we are going to lodge a police complaint and also take up the matter with the Human Rights Commission (HRC)," the NGO said in a statement.
"The act of the school staff is heinous and it will push the child into mental depression and create an aversion to education itself. It is these sorts of incidents that push children to take drastic steps like running away from the home, or even committing suicide," it added.
The issue even reached Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao, who tweeted, "Ridiculous & absolutely inhuman. Will take it up with Hon'ble Deputy CM education for appropriate action on the school."
However, the school has denied the allegations.
Speaking to TNM, the school’s vice-principal, Navya, said, “Whatever is being displayed (in the media) is wrong. I don’t know how it got twisted this way. The girl was not made to stand inside the washroom. The girl’s classroom was actually next to the washroom, and she was made to stand outside her class.”
“The incident happened in the morning when a PT teacher was passing by and she noticed that the girl did not wear her uniform. When she was asked about it, the girl did not respond, because of which we made her stand outside the class. It was only later, that the girl told us that she had a letter from her parents. We immediately sent her back after that,” she added.
“It is a misunderstanding. Things don’t happen like that in the school. It is inhuman. Besides, the PT teacher itself is a woman. So, going inside the boy’s washroom is out of the question,” the school official stated.