In India, rape incidents never seem to go out of the news cycle. If it’s Badayun today, it’s Bangalore tomorrow.
If there are no gruesome-enough incidents to appear on the home page (molestations, unfortunately, are more or less seen at par for the course) there will be some crass rape-related comments from politicians which are sure to make it to the top news slot. “They are boys. Mistakes happen” [Mulayam Singh Yadav]; mobiles, Bollywood and mini-skirts leading to rapes; and some as absurd as: “It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman. It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong” [Babulal Gaur]. And then of course, there is that famous one on Chinese food leading to hormonal imbalance “evoking an urge to indulge in such act”. We have heard them all.
I wonder what insensitive people like Yadav and Gaur will now have to say on the alleged Bangalore rape of a Class I student that was reported on Thursday. They are boys. Mistakes happen? Mr Gaur, is this the right rape or the wrong rape?
Here is the latest statistics on rape cases in India: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows every 20 minutes, a woman is raped somewhere in India. And, crimes against women have increased by 7.1% nationwide since 2010, and child rape cases have increased by 336% in the last 10 years.
While we were focussed on the Bangalore rape case and the reaction of parents who barged into the school demanding action against the perpetrators --- allegedly two school employees--a teenager was raped and murdered in a government secondary school in village Bal Singh Khera in Uttar Pradesh. Her parents don’t have the middle class clout to demand action against the rapists, so odds are that she will end up as a statistic in NCRB reports.
While the UP case did not make news waves and no parent went to the state-run school to demand action, the Bangalore one did for one more additional reason. According to reports, this particular school--Vibgyor High School--and other top schools in the city have now asked parents to sign a form that says when their child participates in events organised by the school, their safety is not the school’s responsibility. Obviously, the schools are looking for some kind of a legal shield in case such incidents happen in future. This is almost like applying for an anticipatory bail.
Here’s the first clause in one such form (it appears in www.bangalore.citizenmatters.in) that parents were asked to sign: “In consideration of my child's participation in various events organised by the Treamis World School which may include field trips, excursions, expeditions, annual camps, sports events etc., I hereby release the management, officers, employees and agents of Treamis, its parent and sister concerns and any other people officially connected with the events, from any and all liability for damage to or loss of personal property, sickness or injury from whatever source, legal entanglements, loss of life or money, which might occur while my child is participating in the event.”
The Vibgyor High School has also reportedly said that the two accused are not on their rolls; they are “outsourced teachers”. Is the school implying that they are not responsible for the conduct of such teachers even when they are inside its premises? Is it so difficult to do a background check of their staff? Is it hard to keep enough staff to ensure that a child is not left alone or invest in technology that will ensure safety of their students?
I wonder why the state government is quiet on such nonsensical demands of these education sharks.