Saturday 14 December 2019

Headmaster arrested after six-year-old pupil raped in school toilets

POLICE in India have arrested the head of a school where a six-year-old girl was raped and charged him with hindering the investigation and negligence.

Rustom Kerawalla was charged with negligence for failing to ensure the student's safety, police in the southern city of Bangalore said.

Earlier this week police also arrested the school's skating instructor and charged him with attacking the girl. The instructor has been teaching at the school since 2011 and police said officials performed no background check when they hired him.

Police say the girl was assaulted on July 2 when she left her classroom to go to the toilet. They say she is recovering from the attack.

It came after thousands of people angry over alleged police inaction in the case rallied at the weekend to demand arrests.

More than 4,000 parents and relatives of children who attend the school in Bangalore, India's technology hub, shouted slogans against the school's administration and demanded that police arrest those involved.

They carried placards reading "Enough is enough" and "We want justice", and walked more than two miles to one of Bangalore's main police stations.

The rape has raised questions about the safety of India's schoolchildren and sparked nationwide outrage over rampant sexual violence against girls and women.

Angry politicians discussed the incident in the state assembly and demanded that the government of Karnataka state, of which Bangalore is the capital, punish the school principal and other administrators who allegedly tried to hush it up.

The parents said they would keep their children out of school until steps are in place to ensure their safety.

Official statistics say about 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. Activists, though, say that number is just a tiny percentage of the actual number, since victims are often pressed by family or police to stay quiet.

Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the fatal gang rape in December 2012 of a young woman on a New Delhi bus, an attack which sparked national outrage.

The outcry led the federal government to rush through legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.

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