34 Indian schoolgirls between the ages of 10 and 14 were hospitalized on October 6th following a mob attack. The mob, composed of local schoolboys, their parents, and other locals, broke into the school with bamboo sticks and iron rods in retaliation against claims of sexual harassment.
Some of the girls, students at Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in northeast India, had physically rebuked some of the boys earlier in the day when they began making lewd comments toward them.
About half an hour later, the mob descended upon the school, launching an attack against the Indian schoolgirls as well as other students and teachers who attempted to intervene. One girl by the name of Guida told reporters, “They dragged us by our ponytails, assaulted [us] with bamboo sticks and kicked and punched.”
“We were totally unarmed and had nothing to protect us. I saw many of my friends lying on the ground and crying with pain.”
Locals took to the streets of Triveniganj on Sunday to protest the attack. Officials at the national level are even calling for girls who attend school at state-run institutions to be provided with security details to protect them against potential future attacks.
Police in Supaul told reporters that they are investigating the incident and have taken nine individuals into custody. They are also looking into the school’s claims that repeated sexual harassment by local teens was an issue. Teachers and students say that some boys would lurk near their school and deface the school’s walls with obscenities.
“Action will be taken against all those found involved in the attack on the girls,” said Baidyanath Yadav, the District Magistrate of Supaul.
The attack highlights rampant crime against young women in the country which has largely gone unchecked. Earlier this year, 44 girls between the ages of 7 and 17 were rescued from a shelter home where they were sexually abused. Just a few weeks ago, a woman was raped while bathing in the Ganges river.
India is a very hostile place for women, but a few small victories have been recently reported. Bans on menstruating women in temples have been lifted across much of the nation and underage sex within a marriage has been ruled illegal. Such legal action has empowered young Indian women to stand up for themselves in a hostile social climate.
The Indian schoolgirls girls who suffered from the Supaul attack are now getting support as they recover. In addition to a larger, better-patrolled fence being built, school administrators say that the girls are being provided with counseling and other services to help the girls overcome the trauma of the attack.
To learn more about gender-based violence as well as other global issues, head to NYMM’s “Be Informed” page.
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