A 33-year-old woman, working at a government school in the north Kerala district of Malappuram, filed a complaint with the police on June 19 alleging that school authorities and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) have not been allowing her to resume her duties after her maternity leave. The woman has claimed that the school has raised an objection to the fact that she gave birth six months into her marriage.
Speaking to TNM, the woman stated that she has been working as an English teacher at the Government Upper Primary School in Kottakkal municipality in Malappuram for the past 5 years. She said that she was scheduled to give birth on October 5, 2018, and was to resume her services from January 2019.
âI worked at the school till the eve of my delivery and at that time I had already applied for three months of maternity leave, from October to December. When I called up the headmaster of the school to inform him about my rejoining, he told me that the PTA doesnât want me back at the school,â the woman told TNM.
The woman and her first husband had separated a few years ago and she had started living with her second husband before she got married to him legally. âThere was some delay regarding the divorce proceedings with my first husband. So even though my marriage with my second husband was registered in April 2018, we had started living together months before that,â the woman tells TNM.
The woman has alleged that the PTA and the management are holding against her the fact that she gave birth just six months after marriage and are not allowing her to rejoin the school.
âAll women have the right to give birth. I donât know why Iâm being portrayed as a vulgar woman,â she said, accusing the PTA of portraying her as a âbad womanâ in front of all the teachers and parents during a meeting held in May this year. âIn front of all the parents, the teachers said that I had my child through an illicit relationship and that I have many illicit relationships with different men. I am not able to get out of my house and go outside now,â the woman said.
Following this, the woman approached the child rights commission, stating that it was not just a violation of her rights, but also a violation of her childâs rights.
According to the woman, the commission had sought a clarification from the Deputy Director of Education (DDE) regarding the matter and despite the DDEâs directive to the school to allow the woman to rejoin, the PTA and the headmaster were allegedly against it.
TNM spoke to the headmaster of the school, who wished to remain anonymous, and he refuted the womanâs claim that she worked as an English teacher at the school. He stated said that the woman was appointed as a daily wage staff member on a temporary contract to take care of the students of the pre-primary classes.
âThe woman came from a poor financial background. She did not have a father and her mother had passed away with cancer so the PTA appointed her as a staff taking into consideration her circumstances,â the headmaster told TNM.
He added that the woman was asked not to rejoin since there were complaints against her of allegedly assaulting students and behaving rudely with them.
âShe had submitted her maternity leave request to me and at the time, she had asked me whether she will get her job back once the maternity leave is over. That itself shows that she was worried that she had done something wrong and that the PTA had differences with her,â he said.