Chennai: Many students of a prominent school in the Chennai, Tamil Nadu on May 23rd shared their ordeal about a male teacher in their school who has been sexually harassing the students for quite sometime.
The coming out did not stop there. Later, on 23 May, a woman Instagram fashion influencer shared accounts of several students who accused the teacher of harassing them for over 10 years.
The teacher used to teach Accounts and Business Studies to Class XI and XII students. After a lot of uproar on social media, the 59-year-old male teacher was arrested on Monday night, 24 May, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 and for insulting the modesty of women.
According to The Quint, Students alleged that he routinely harassed girls with ‘awkward questions’ clouded in sexual innuendos. They accused him of commenting on the physique of girls. According to him, “women of easy virtue chose to wear sleeveless and non-traditional clothes”. A few students said that he would “elbow their breasts and say that it happened by mistake.”
Another student, as reported by The Quint, alleged that in the class when a girl says ‘ouch’ or shrieks the teacher would ask, “Why are you shouting as if you’re being raped?”
The harassment allegedly continued even during the lockdown in his virtual classroom. In a story shared by the fashion influencer, a student has accused the teacher of taking a class while in a towel.
He allegedly texts the students individually, commenting on their profile pictures and asks them to send pictures in ‘pretty clothes’
The school had issued an order of suspension to the teacher on Monday evening. “Some very serious charges of misconduct have been alleged against you and the same has come to the knowledge of the management through social media. Pending further inquiry into your conduct, without prejudice, you are under suspension with immediate effect,” read the letter addressed to the teacher.
The school management initially issued a statement saying the institution has zero-tolerance towards anything that adversely affects the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of students. However, screenshots posted online by complainants stated that they had approached the school management (dean) and that there was allegedly no action against the accused.
Four more teachers accused of sexual harassment
Just hours after this teacher was arrested on Monday, 24 May, serious allegations were levelled against four teachers of another reputable school in the city.
More complaints emerged after Sunday evening from other schools as well, including those from students of another city school who alleged that a sports teacher harassed girl students, and a woman teacher slut-shamed girls and flirted with boys.
The allegations against the chemistry teacher, the swimming coach assistant, the basketball coach and the chemistry lab assistant date back to as early as the 1990s batch of the institution.
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) issued a summons on 30 May, to the administrators and teachers from the schools.
The Quint reported that several students said that the staff members passed extremely sexist and casteist comments and made several advances.
Multiple allegations against the chemistry lab assistant for his inappropriate conduct have surfaced. Many alleged that he had touched private parts of the girl students under the pretence of helping them with their experiments.
A student told The Quint that the swimming coach assistant had groped several students and rubbed himself against them in crowded places. He had even forcefully entered the women changing room during swimming classes.
The chemistry teacher was reportedly notorious for failing students and urging them to join his private tuitions. “He would deliberately let everyone leave by 6 pm but make me stay till 7 pm. He even offered to drop me back home and would ask me to have dinner with him and then do the same thing with another girl the next day,” a student alleged on Instagram.
Serious allegations have been levelled against the basketball coach by a former player who said that he demanded sexual favours from her by trapping her in a room. The survivor who is a successful entrepreneur today was groped by this man during a train journey for a match.
Several students of the basketball team agreed with her and said they, too, had faced verbal abuses and ‘accidental’ brushing against their breasts, legs, hips, and thighs.
Apparently, all four alleged abusers were reportedly very close to the influential teachers at school and were also on the committee that manages donations for the school.
As per reports, alumni who have been collecting statements and mobilising support have allegedly been receiving threat calls.
The alumni have also penned an open letter with almost 1,000 signatures.
In the light of what has happened so far, the alumni of the school, in a strongly worded petition urged the management to immediately constitute an inquiry committee or make use of the existing sexual harassment (grievance redressal) committee to determine the veracity of the allegations and suspend the alleged harassers and ensure they don’t take classes or grade any student’s test.