South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in DNA India on July 19th ::

The rape of a six-year-old student in a private school in Bangalore has brought to light the need for clear guidelines and mechanisms to ensure that schools can put a stop to instances of sexual violence and other abuse, Amnesty International India said on Saturday.

The girl was raped allegedly by two staff members within the school premises on July 2, but a formal complaint was filed only late last week. A criminal investigation was underway and no arrests have been made yet. “Authorities need to frame clear policies to prevent violence against children in schools,” Tara Rao, Director of Human Rights Education at Amnesty International India, said in a release. Rao said the Juvenile Justice Rules acknowledge the need to address sexual violence in schools, but authorities have not developed clear guidelines for schools on identification of abuse, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow up, and appropriate judicial involvement.

“Authorities must develop and disseminate these guidelines, and hold schools accountable for failing to adequately respond to allegations and instances of sexual violence,” Rao said. Amnesty International India said that international law and standards, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – to which India is a state party – emphasise the need for schools to focus on child-centric approaches through the involvement of all members of the school community to prevent such violence and abuse. “Schools must institute mechanisms that enable concrete pre-emptive steps to prevent such acts of violence, including by carrying out sensitisation and training programmes where the views and experiences of children are counted. Schools should be safe and secure environments that support and promote children’s dignity and development”, Rao said.