Sexual violence in schools

Need to establish transparent and confidential mechanisms that ensure students, staff and parents can voice concerns

The unsettling case involving the alleged rape and blackmail of women staffers by the principal of a private school in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Hadeed has unveiled the harsh reality that sexual vio­lence can permeate the very institutions that should be safe havens for learning and growth. It is a disturbing reminder of the moral deprivation the country is currently suffering from.

Schools are, by design, meant to be nurturing envi­ronments where children and young adults not only acquire knowledge but also develop the skills and values that will shape their futures. These institutions rely heavily on trust that parents place in educators, that students place in their mentors, and that the commu­nity places in the school as a whole. When this trust is violated, it has far-reaching consequences. What is par­ticularly distressing about this case is that it involved an educated individual in a powerful position — the school principal. Education alone does not guarantee moral integrity or ethical conduct, and that individuals in positions of authority can, and do, misuse their power.

To prevent such incidents and protect the vulnerable schools across the country, there is need to establish transparent and confidential reporting mechanisms, ensuring that students, staff and parents can voice their concerns without fear of retribution. Moreover, regulating bodies should conduct rigorous background checks on all employees and educators, both at the time of hiring and periodically throughout their tenure. Parents, students and community members should actively engage in discussions about the safety of educa­tional institutions, fostering a culture of vigilance and accountability. The principle accused, if found guilty, should be subjected to the harshest of punishments as a form of deterrence to prevent others from doing the same. The onus lies on the government to regulate and penalise institutions or individuals in order to root out the rot from the system.

Published at Express Tribune on 7th September 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.